2015 Fly-By-Night Team Article Archive


SCHOOL YARD CHATTER AND SOME TEAM HISTORY

- 3-28

After finishing 11th in the National League at 63-99, 42 games back of first place Norwich, GM Branch Rickey was told to shake things up. Rickey had 10 2015 DP’s in the top 120 picks. With 38 players on the roster to be able to use all 10 DP’s decisions had to be made. Eleven players would be needed to be traded or cut or some 2015 DP’s had to be traded. In Rickey’s first move he traded veteran lefty Javier Lopez along with infielder Ryan Goins to Wall Street for WS 2016 #5DP. Next, he released veteran starter John Lannan and veteran reliever Joel Peralta. He cleaned house with four additional pitchers, Scott Diamond, Dylan Axerod, Burch Smith and Tyler Cloyd. Also given their unconditional release were bench players Jeff Bianchi and Luis Jimenez. None of the released players were signed by another FBN team in the 2015 draft.

Before the draft Rickey decided to trade one of his three 2015 #3’s. He traded Milford's #3 DP to CT for CT’s 2016 #2. Now with nine draft picks in hand it was time to prepare for the 2015 draft. With the 5th overall pick Jorge Solar was drafted. Rickey, Casey and Bruno all hope Solar will be a future ALL-STAR. The team needed starting pitching and with the teams second pick in the first round at 22, starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker was drafted. In the second round the team had three draft picks and at 28 another starting pitcher was drafted, Trevor Bauer. At 43, the teams short stop hole was taken care of as Jose Ramirez was drafted. With so little power on the team Rickey drafted first baseman CJ Cron with the teams 3rd 2nd round pick at 44. In the 3rd round at 51 Rickey made a surprise pick as he broke the “Steve Walters Rule” on starting pitching. He drafted left handed started Roenis Elias. Steve Walters who owned the Galactic Gladiators and the FBN in the early years drafted only right handed starting pitchers. In those days lefties got hammered. But, it seems SOM has a handle on it and LHS do much better now. Rickey drafted another SP at 68 in Alex Colome. In the 5th round he added a future starting catcher in Tuffy Goosewich and a hopeful starting 3rd baseman in Mike Olt.

With all the starting pitching that Rickey drafted he was able to revisit the roster. He decided to waive veteran starter Edwin Jackson who he had picked up during the season from the Jarheads. But, with Jackson’s record of 6-15 and an ERA of 6.33, Rickey decide the 31 year old was not worth keeping. Rickey signed Brian Schlitter off the Waiver Wire. Schlitter was 2 years younger and the team could use him in the bullpen. Rickey also made the roster younger by waiving 31 year old Juan Gutierrez and signing 23 year old Alex Claudio off the Waiver Wire. Rickey had made an offer to 27 year old Christian Friedrich and even had him in uniform only to be out bid (earlier pick in the WW) by Milford. Rickey said, “You win some and lose some. Only time will tell who got the better player.”

2015 Season – We opened FTF with Taxachusetts on Friday the 13th. In the first game of the season was Robinson Cano’s 1400th game. Cano went 1-4 in an 8-0 shutout loss. It was a still a fun series even as we went 1-3. Game 4 was a 3-2 TX exciting win. We only hit .214. It was great to see Bud and it was the first time playing him FTF since 2008. I hate to be reminded but it was 2008 when after I won the first 3 games in the NLDS Bud and the Chiefs went on the warpath and took the next 4 to win the series. OUCH. Next was Maine by written road instructions. We bounced back and went 3-1. The team hit .309 for the series to bring the overall team average to .268.

I traveled to Wall Street for another FTF match. It felt like a split at 2-2 but Joe asked me “In what series did you just play to go 2-2?” Damn, he was right it was 1-3. The team only hit .191, lowering the team average to .235. It was a pitchers delight. In game 3, JD Martinez had the team’s All-Time hit number 4300. In game 4, a 3-0 shutout loss, Cano’s last at bat was his 5300th AB. He grounded out to the pitcher. So, at 5-7 we had Dave Gineo and his CT Blue Devils schedule for a FTF series on the 19th. Dave has been playing Bill, Joe and me FTF on his twice a year all day marathons! This year he did not have Bill on the schedule with Joe and me. But, Dave still drove to Mystic to play me in the morning and in the afternoon he went to Colchester to play Joe. Dave and I split 2-2. In game 2 we were shutout for the third time already this year. The team hit .231 for the series. In the last game of the series in the second inning Cano singled giving him 1600 for his career. The team is 7-9. Larry Huck emailed me that we have results coming in from Illinois and I’m in the scheduling stage with Bruce and his New England Lime Sox. Bruce and I hope to hook up by Skype.

Below some of the history of the teams that called their home the School Yard.

1985 – After two years in another league that failed miserably and folded I replied to and ad in the Strat-O-Matic review. I had to pass a written questionnaire to get into the league. One question was “What does your wife think of strat?” Man, I had to lie about that one and say she liked it. LOL, in reality she hated strat. But over the years she has accepted the fact I’m just a 12 year old kid playing baseball at the school yard.

In maiden season in the FBN by team was named the Mystic Red Skins. I inherited the Orangeville Wolverines. In 1984 the Wolverines finished dead last at 26-126. The team was old and full of many DH type players. The only good thing was it still owned the #1 DP for the 1985 draft. I used it to draft Dwight Gooden. We showed an 18 game improvement but still finished last at 54-108 in the NLW.

1986 - I changed the team name to Bruno’s Red Skins. The FBN expanded from 16 teams to 20. I decided to draft for present value cards. How long could this FBNBA last? Returning after a few years out of the FBN was Charter Member, Jeff “Merk” Merklin. Merk won the very first PBM FBN World Series in 1974 with his West Jeff Jerks. In his return it’s the Yorktown Admirals. Three newbie’s were the other expansion members. Jim Ferguson and his Lake Wobegon Whippets, John Lamanna and his Goldenrod Gators and the reason I was moved from the NLW to the NLE so I could play some ftf games was the forth expansion team from Connecticut. Bruce Fogg and his Lake Erie Lyme Sox. FTF games? What the heck are FTF games? I had no idea about playing FTF. Plus how would you do it? Who rolls the dice? Or should I say, how do you decide who roll’s the dice? FTF was going to be a new experience for me and it turned out to be great. Bruce was so kind showing me the ropes. We finished 9-9. I could have gone 0-18 and it wouldn’t have matter. Those games were great fun. The team went from last in 1985 to first in 1986. The four NL playoff teams rented a hotel room in Stamford and played the first round FTF. In round one, I lost to TEEM in 7 games. But, I decided I had found the winning combination for the FBN…….DRAFT FOR THE BEST PRESENT VALUE CARDS AND THE HELL WITH THERE FUTURE VALUE……yeah, how did that work out?

1987 – Still Bruno’s Red Skins. This was the second draft that I went for present value cards. I finished fourth out of five teams in the NLE at 74-88. But, there’s always next year.

1988 – I changed the team name to Ole Mystic Eagles. Maybe I thought the new name would help the team will soar to new heights. We still played in the School Yard. That has never changed. Third year in a row I drafted for present value. Nothing helped. The team finished last at 64-98. Ten games worst then 1987 but 28 games worst since I decided drafting present value cards was the way to win. What a dummy.

1989 – Another name change. Finally one I liked, Allyn Street 89ERS. Anyone driving in CT on I-95 will see our “billboard” on both the North and South lanes ...Allyn Street Exit 89. I decide this FBNBA may be around for a while so I’m going to start drafting for future value to hope to improve my team. I finish 4th, up one spot at 66-96. It may have been only a two game improvement but it was an improvement plus I had some players I could count on for the 1990 season.

1990 – I drafted again for future value. This had to be the right move. It turned out 1990 was my lowest point yet in the FBN. The team went 60-102. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. I was going to continue with my plan.

1991- With first place, yes first place, on the line Bob Mendez and I took our teams to Las Vegas to play our last 6 games. We played 3 home and 3 away game series at a time back then. Bob’s Willimantic Warriors and Kevin McReynolds took 4 of 6 and finished first at 90-72. At 88-74 it was good for second. The two teams met again in the NLCS. We played FTF if you want to call it FTF. After the first dice roll I don’t think we looked up from the cards again until the end of the series. I’m up 3 games to 2 and things were looking good for my first trip to the World Series...but Bob and Kevin “FN” McReynolds got hot and came back to take the last two games to win the NLCS. Bob will make this a habit against my team. I guess I should have never had told him about the FBN :) .

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT- 3-31

Edwin "The Big E" Encarnacion is named Jarhead of the Month for his blistering April start. After 20 games Edwin is hitting .309 with a team high 7 HRs and 21 RBI.

Extra Bases:
Denard Span .311, has 10 doubles among his team leading 28 hits.
Jonathan Herrera .196, has 5 triples in 51 ABs.

Go figure !
Jeremy Guthrie 4gs 2-0, 8.62
Kyle Kendrick 5gs 3-0, 4.73
WW Swarzak 4gs 3-0, 2.08

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DEVIL DOODLES- 3-31

The Connecticut Blue Devils began play in their 29th season in the FBN struggling to a 6-10 start. Based on most projections, this could be the worst season in franchise history with weak starting pitching and no power. Connecticut has had just 3 losing seasons in their history with the worst season in 2010 when the team finished at 68-94. Could this season be worse? Mgr. Piniella will certainly try his hardest to keep the team competitive but simply may not have enough horses for the race.

The starting pitching has been atrocious to start the year with 4 starters having ERA’s over 6.00 including John Danks (8.64) and David Phelps (8.54). Aaron Harang has been the surprise savior for the starters winning all 3 of his starts allowing just one earned run for an 0.53 ERA. The bullpen has been solid overall but is getting overworked.

Offensively, the team has hit just 8 HR’s in 16 games which puts the Blue Devils on a pace for a pathetic 81 HR’s for the season. This would eclipse the previous low mark in team HR’s by a wide margin - 123 HR’s in 1990 & 1991. However, on the positive side, with 11 triples in 16 games, the team is on a pace to break the franchise record of 81 triples in 1992 as they are currently on a pace for 111 triples. Alex Rios, Team MVP from last season is off to a solid start batting .292 but veteran Yadier Molina, already banged up with nagging injuries, is struggling at .190.

An upcoming series with powerhouse Norwich most likely will send the Blue Devils even further under .500 . . . .

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER AND SOME TEAM HISTORY- 4-14

2015 Season – At 15-18 the team is playing above expectations. The team is batting .242. Robinson Cano started the year with an 8 game hitting streak 6 for 16 .375. JD Martinez followed with a 10 game hitting streak 12 for 39 .308. Edwardo Escobar had a 9 game hitting streak 11 for 36 .306. But others have not started to hit yet. Justin Smoak .080, Mike Olt .154, Will Venable .216, Rajai Davis .238 and Jose Ramirez .241.

The pitching has been carrying the team. Andrew Cashner 3-0, 1.91 ERA, Samuel Deduno 3-1, 2.17ERA, Kyle Lohse 3-2, 3.88 and Rookie Lefty, Roenis Elias 4-2, 4.00ERA. The bullpen has been even better lead by Mark Melancon 0-0-9, 0.90ERA. The rest of the pen is 1-2, 1.53ERA.

History of the teams that called their home the School Yard continued..

1992 – A first place finish for the 89ERS, it’s the first time since 1986. At 91-71 we beat out Bob Mendez and his Warriors who finished 2nd at 87-75. In the NLDS I beat Windsor 91-71 (now Milford) and Bob upset Connecticut 106-56). That set the stage for a rematch of the 1991 NLCS. Mendez does it again eliminating the 89ERS in 7 games. That’s two years in a row that Mendez prevents the 89ERS from going to the World Series! Barh Humbug!

1993 – We go back to back for the first time and take the NLE flag for the second year in a row at 101-61. Mendez must play a one game tie breaker to make the playoffs this year as he and North Grosvenordale are deadlocked for the last playoff spot. Mendez’s Warriors waste a lead and somehow NG comes back late to win. With the Warriors out of the playoffs we won the NLCS and move onto our first World Series appearance. We face the Hog’s (94-68). There are no playoff stats but we lost to the Hog’s in a FTF match up.

1994 - The FBN expands to 24 teams. After three straight winning season’s the 89ERs fall to 80-82 and finished 4th.

1995 – The year started with a Pre-Season Tournament held by Bruce Fogg and the 89ERS took home the trophy for first place. That was the start of a Cinderella season. Allyn Street won the NLE 100-62 over Taxachusett (89-73). We had to play Farmington (110-52) in the NLDS and won in 6 games. In the NLCS we met Connecticut (116-46). We lost the first 2 games in CT. We took 2 of 3 at home and had to sweep the Blue Devils at CT. Game 6 was an 11 inning 89ER win. We took game 7 to move onto our second visit to the WS. In the WS we met Hazardville (107-55). The series went 6 games with Allyn Street winning. We even our World Series record at 1-1.

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CHIEF NEWS- 4-23

The worst player in FBN history is.....

Curtis Granderson now has 2018 at bats as a Chief with a career batting average of .203. He has 595 strikeouts nearly 30% of his at bats. Since 2011, he is batting .194 (292 for 1509). This year 22 for 141, a .156 average.

GRANDERSON
Year&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp BA&nbsp GM&nbsp&nbsp AB&nbsp&nbsp R&nbsp&nbsp H 2B 3B HR RBI&nbsp BB HBP&nbsp SO SB CS&nbsp E&nbsp OBP&nbsp SLG&nbsp OPS
2011&nbsp&nbsp .230 156&nbsp 509&nbsp 64 117 13 13 23&nbsp 72 &nbsp54&nbsp&nbsp 1 135&nbsp 7&nbsp 0&nbsp 3 .305 .442 .747
2012&nbsp&nbsp .200 158&nbsp 625&nbsp 96 125 20&nbsp 9 28&nbsp 71 &nbsp73&nbsp 15 185 20&nbsp 4&nbsp 1 .299 .395 .694
2013&nbsp&nbsp .200 159&nbsp 580&nbsp 71 116 21&nbsp 0 28&nbsp 79 &nbsp75&nbsp&nbsp 6 186&nbsp 7&nbsp 2&nbsp 0 .298 .381 .679
2014&nbsp&nbsp .178&nbsp 65&nbsp 163&nbsp 22&nbsp 29&nbsp 8&nbsp 1&nbsp 4&nbsp 14&nbsp 24&nbsp&nbsp 0&nbsp 48&nbsp 4&nbsp 0&nbsp 0 .283 .313 .596
2015&nbsp&nbsp .156&nbsp 34&nbsp 141&nbsp 14&nbsp 22&nbsp 6&nbsp 2&nbsp 3&nbsp 10&nbsp 16&nbsp&nbsp 0&nbsp 41&nbsp 0&nbsp 0&nbsp 0 .241 .291 .532
TOTALS .203 572 2018 267 409 68 25 86 246 242&nbsp 22 595 38&nbsp 6&nbsp 4

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 4-30

The Connecticut Blue Devils completed the second block with improved play moving from 9-15 in the first block to 10-8 in this block to stand at 19-23. Certainly nothing special – but not the worst either. The Blue Devils won 4 of the 6 series played in the second block.

As expected, the power outage for the team continues hitting just 21 HR’s in the 42 games played continuing their pace for just 81 HR’s for the season – well below their previous low mark of 123 HR’s in the early 90’s. Luis Valbuena leads the team with just 4 HR’s. Jose Reyes has been the offensive star leading the team in BA (.312), runs scored (20), RBI’s (21) and stolen bases (8). He’s chipped in 7 doubles, 3 triples and 3 HR’s for an all-around solid effort. Alex Rios isn’t too far behind batting .300 with 17 runs, 18 RBI, 7 stolen bases, 8 doubles and 3 HR’s.

The starting pitching improved tremendously from the horrible first block lowering the team ERA from 5.17 to 4.29 now. Youngster Alex Wood leads the team with a 2.85 ERA in 8 starts but with minimal run support is only 2-3. Veterans Aaron Harang(3.70) and C.J. Wilson(3.86) have been solid. John Danks has been brutal at 7.53 ERA in 8 starts but somehow has managed a 3-4 record. Rookie Kevin Quackenbush has been the best in the bullpen with a 1.31 ERA. In 21 innings he has allowed just 3 runs on 12 hits with only 6 walks and 28 strikeouts. 3 relievers have already logged over 20+innings so the starters need to last longer in games before the arms burn out in the pen.

Whether the Blue Devils can hang around the fringe of wild card contention much longer (about 3 games out right now) will be interesting to watch ...

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER - 5-13

After starting the season at 14-13, the team has turned things “around” and is trying to catch Basement Bertha’s attention and have gone 7-21 over its last 38 games to fall to 21-34, .382 on the season.

At 14-13 the team was hitting .249 (225 for 905). During the slide the team has averaged only .220 (201 for 955). AJ Pierzynski went from .296 to .217, with a 1-30 slide. Eduardo Escobar went from .286 to .254, with a 1-18 slide. The team had 25 homeruns in the first 27 games and have hit only 11 in the last 31. After splitting their series with Hotlanta the team has lost 6 series in a row, three times losing 5 games in a row.

Other players not hitting their weight: Mike Olt .160 but he leads the team with 6 HR’s, Matt den Dekker .161, Justin Smoak .167, Will Venable .189. (I need to start calling him Will Venerable again. Our pitchers used as pinch hitters in blowouts are out hitting some at .167.

Rookie pitcher Roenis Elias leads the team in wins at 5-4 (4.06ERA) followed by Kyle Lohse at 4-4 (3.45ERA). The 1962 Mets Roger Craig Award leaders are Rookies Matt Shoemaker at 0-7, 4.90ERA and Jarred Cosart at 1-7, 3.91ERA. Cosart could lose 20 as he has 17 starts remaining while Shoemaker will not be able to make that “honor” as he only has 9 maybe 10 starts remaining for the year. As Roger Craig said back in 62’ “You got to be good to lose 20 games. If you’re not they aint going to put you out there that often.” GM Rickey and Owner Bruno hope that Cosart and Shoemaker WILL be that good in the future! (No, not to continue to lose big but to turn it around and WIN BIG! Right Casey??)

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DEVIL DOODLES - 5-30

The Connecticut Blue Devils headed into their last series vs. the AL with an 18-16 interleague record – not too bad compared to their 9-15 start vs. the NL. Unfortunately, however, the Blue Devils were swept 3 games in that series vs. Milford – not able to get a big hit or big out when needed. This was the first series that Connecticut was swept all year. With that disappointing series, the Blue Devils head into Block 4 play vs. the NL at 27-34 – starting to officially fade from Wild Card contention. (as expected)

The power outage for the team continues hitting just 37 HR’s in the 61 games played – on a pace for just 98 HR’s for the season. Luis Valbuena & Alex Rios lead the team with just 6 HR’s each. Valbuena also leads the team in RBI’s with 28 which puts him on a pace for just 74 RBI – not exactly an offensive juggernaut this team ...

Alex Wood continues to lead the starting pitching with a fine 2.89 ERA in 12 starts but just a 3-4 record. Veterans C.J. Wilson (4-5 3.89) and Aaron Harang (5-6 4.09) have been pretty solid overall but John Danks (3-7 6.14) and David Phelps (2-6 6.08) have been brutal. They are certainly in danger of losing their rotation spots soon. Drew Storen leads the bullpen with 13 saves and a 1.53 ERA and rookie Kevin Quackenbush (2.05) looks like a solid arm in the pen with 43 K’s in just 30 IP.

If the Blue Devils have any hope of staying in Wild Card contention – this will be the key block. But it’s going to be tough as they have to face 3 of the best teams in the NL in New England, Wall Street and Taxachusetts ....good luck with that!

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER - 6-1

From 12-12 vs the NL teams to an 11-26 run vs the AL teams, including losing 9 of our last 10 series at 23-38 we sure did look and play like the ’62 Mets! (My favorite team after the ’61 Yankees.) The team had made 20 errors our first 20 games. We were the clowns of the Polo Grounds on pace to make 162 errors. Well after looking it up, the ’62 Mets did make 210 errors so maybe we have a chance to turn things around. The defense did improve with only 20 errors in our next 41 games.

WHERE’S THE BEEF? - Robinson Cano and JD Martinez have been hitting well below their cards. Cano is hitting .282, with only 10D, 4HR and 25 RBI. Compared that to .314, 73D, 2T 14HR and 82RBI. Martinez is hitting .253, with 13D, 4HR and 23 RBI. Compared that to his card at .315, 30D, 3T, 23HR and 76RBI. Plus, Casey has been over using Martinez’s At Bats. He’ll have to be rested soon but not against the National League teams that’s for sure.

The pitching was led by Kyle Loshe at 5-4, 3.39ERA. For his job well done GM Rickey traded Loshe to Louisville along with Tommy Hunter 0-3, 3.43ERA. The 89ER rotation will now have two second year players, Andrew Cashner 3-0, 1.91ERA and Jarred Cosart 2-7, 3.60 and four rookie starters, Trevor Bauer 1-5, 4.27ERA, Matt Shoemaker 0-7, 4.68ERA, Roenis Elias 5-6, 4.99ERA and newcomer Nick Martinez who was acquired in the Loshe trade along with shortstop and DH Chris Taylor. Taylor will lead off and DH until he runs out of at bats.

Branch Rickey is still taking offers on a number of Triple A players. Rickey sent a number of players to West Broad Street save their FBN at bat’s and innings for possible future deals.

Seasonal Hi-lites: Andrew Cashner 4 hit shutout vs New England. Ryan Flaherty Grand Slam, 5RBI game vs Arsenal in a 5-1 89ER win. Robinson Cano 1400th Game was opening day’s 8-0 loss to Taxachusett. Cano’s 5300th At Bat was in 3-0 lost to Wall Street. Cano’s 1600th hit was a single in 9-5 loss to Connecticut. Rajai Davis 201st Stolen Base to pass Wally Backman for 5th All-Time on Team list. Cano 355th BB to pass Shane Victorino for 9th. Cano’s 1641st hit to pass Chuck Knoblauch for 3rd All-Time. Team: 2600th win came against Milford. 9000 double came against John’s Creek.

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 6-22

World Champion US Jarhead Scuttlebutt:
The Jarheads completed their best block of the season, going 13-7 to move into 5th place. The hot streak comes right after Mgr Jeff Kent sent the team to Myrtle Beach for 72 holes of golf, rather than to Parris Island for 72 hours of "Motivation" training. The recent sweep of the Bucs moved the team just 1 game behind the 4th place Klubbers.

Waiver Wire Pickups:
The 'Ace' of the rotation, Anthony Swarzak was 6-4, 3.98 in 14 starts, but was sent to Parris Island with inning fatigue. It looks like he has enough gas for two starts in the final block. Reid Brignac was called up this block and made a solid contribution. He hit .304/.385oba and played 16 errorless games at SS. The acquisition of SS Jordy Mercer will impact Brignac immediately, either sending him to the bench or back to Parris Island until the last block.

Mike Trout has warmed up a little bit, moving from below the Mendoza line to a modest .249. But Paul Goldschmidt continues to stumble along, barely inching up from .227 to .232.

Jarhead of the Month is Closer Scott Atchison. The Ancient One has 21 saves and a 1.42 era. He's given up 4 runs in 25.1 IP, allowing only 12 hits and 6 walks.

What is going on here?
Jeremy Guthrie   5-2, 6.00
Kyle Kendrick   3-2, 5.90
Drew Smyly     4-8, 4.36
Ryan Vogelsong   4-10, 4.38

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DEVIL DOODLES - 6-28

After a poor block back against the NL going 8-12, the Connecticut Blue Devils have officially fell out of any Wild Card contention at 35-46 halfway through the season. (not that they were ever really in contention!). Over the next month or so, there will most likely be some players traded off the team although the Blue Devils don’t really have any big cards that will help contenders – mainly role player/bench types or a bullpen arm. Emilio Bonifacio was the first to go heading off to Louisville to be a utility player. Who will be next?

The powerless offense continues to be scrappy averaging exactly 4 runs/game with the leading HR & RBI hitter – Luis Valbuena with just 9 HR’s and 39 RBI. Alex Rios (.300) and Jose Reyes (.282, 22 stolen bases) have been getting on base fairly regularly but just not getting enough help. Yadier Molina is struggling at .246, 5 HR’s 28 RBI and Gerardo Parra(.232) & Robbie Grossman(.209) haven’t helped much either. With Bonifacio gone, the full time 2B job will be handed to 1st rd pick Rougned Odor – so far is scuffling at .230 but has shown some pop with 5 doubles, 3 triples and 1 HR in just 139 AB’s. Blue Devil management is certainly hoping he is the answer at 2B for the future.

Veteran Aaron Harang has surprisingly been leading the pitching staff with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts going 7-8. Alex Wood backs him up at 3.47 going 5-4 in 16 starts. But the rest of the rotation has been ugly – CJ Wilson (4-7 4.61) David Phelps (2-9 5.81) and John Danks (3-7 6.14). Some new faces will definitely be tried in the second half. Rookie Jimmy Nelson made 4 decent starts last block going 1-2 3.86 – not too bad. The bullpen continues to be the strength of the team going 13-9 with 23 saves 3.32 ERA.

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BATON ROUGE MID-SEASON NOTES - 6-29

The Silver Bullets are enjoying their finest season in their 26 year history. The new year saw the Bullets with several players having very good offensive years but the pitching, starting pitching in particular, being very short on innings and on quality. With the emergence of Anthony Rizzo, Morneau was traded away and then we traded for Tanner Roark and Andrew Miller. Our first draft pick was used to take Colin McHugh. That left us with 5 starters but still short on innings. We decided to go with short outings for the starters followed by a very good battery of relievers – 10 to be exact (okay a couple aren’t that good). To date the Bullets are a combined 41-7 when one of the big three starters – Roark, McHugh, or Darvish – start the game. We are 21-12 when either Gonzalez or Santana start the game. The relief staff is lead by Doolittle and Miller who have almost identical stats – 39 innings, 0.69 ERA. Josh Fields (2.00 ERA), Danny Farquhar (2.70 ERA), Cory Rasmus (3.78 ERA), Todd Redmond (1.87 ERA), and Pedro Baez (3.66 ERA) make up the bulk of the rest of the staff. Fields is the team leader in saves with 11 but no one has the “closer” tag. He has 11 of the teams 36 saves.

Offensively Rizzo (.280, 14 home runs, 49 RBI, 51 runs) and Carlos Gomez (.259, 12 home runs, 45 RBI batting lead off, 44 runs, 23 stolen bases) have lead the team. In part time roles, Carl Crawford is hitting .365 and Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .330. However, in 81 games we have hit only 55 home runs and have given up 53. Mesoraco has only 3 homers and Zimmerman has yet to hit even one. Solarte is 3rd on the team with 6. We are on pace to score 744 runs – average at best.

It is pitching, pitching, and more pitching for the Bullets to go with stellar defense. It’s working so far…

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CHIEF NEWS - 7-3

MID-SEASON POWER RANKINGS

How it's calculated: 50% Pythagorean wins based on run differential, 30% actual road winning percentage and 20% actual home winning percentage. I was able to track each team's H & A W-L at the 81-game mark over the past few weeks. League average rating is 81.0.

BR   115.7
NN   108.4
NE   97.1
WS   95.9
MD   93.3
AG   87.1
KK   86.8
LV   86.8
MY   84.4
HS   84.1
US   81.1
HT   79.9
HZ   76.4
LW   76.3
BB   74.9
TX   73.5
NA   72.0
IL   71.1
CT   70.4
AS   69.9
YA   66.1
CD   63.9
UR   60.3
JC   59.8

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER - 7-30

In need of at bats the team was able to pick up over 200 at bats in a recent trade with Nashville. The team acquired Evan Gattis and his 238 at bats will be used at catching. This will allow Casey to platoon a number of batters at DH and not use his non-starting pitchers as a DH. AJ Pierzynski and Bryan Holaday will be the lefty, right platoon until Holaday runs out of his at bats. The additional at bats also allowed Casey to move JD Martinez from outfield/DH to outfield only. Also he was able to move Chris Herrmann from behind the plate to the outfield. With Matt den Dekker saving his 109 at bats in the minors at West Broad Street as possible “trade bait” Casey was getting squeezed for outfield at bats. “Rickey did good, said Casey, now we can play some baseball, we got nine guys.”

Dr. Jerkyll or Mr. Hyde? Evan Gattis just needed some time to get used to “Stengelize”. In his first 6 games his numbers were worse than the players he was replacing in the lineup, Bryan Holaday .209, Chris Herrmann .125, and our non-starting pitchers .109. Gattis was 2 for 22, .090, both singles, 1 run scored and had 3 RBI. In his next 4 games at John’s Creek Gattis was 8 for 16, .500, with a doubl,3 homeruns, 4 runs scored and 3 rbi. “I didn’t understand him (Stengel). I thought he was saying “sit the bitch”? I felt that I just got here and he didn’t want to play me. Later when I was talking with right handed batting coach, Elston Howard, Howard told me that Casey was saying “hit the pitch”. Thank goodness that was cleared up early.

The 1962 Mets Roger Craig Award Rookie pitcher Roenis Elias has hit a stone wall going 2-7 since his fine start to fall to 7-11 on the year. He now leads the team in losses. Rookie Jarred Cosart with a recent 5-3 record improved on the year to 6-10. Rookie Matt Shoemaker went 1-1 recently and is 2-8 on the year. None of these pitcher will “win” the ’62 Mets Roger Craig Award this season. Elias and Cosart only have 8 starts remaining and Shoemaker is down to only 3. “I gave it a shot but going 5-3 recently knotted me out of contention”, said Cosart.

All-Time Team Records: Robinson Cano played in his 1500th game. That’s 5th on the All-Time List. Scored his 750th run (6th All-Time) and had his 1705 hit to pass Rafael Furcal for 2nd All-Time. Fred McGriff is the 89ERS #1 hit leader with 2338 hits.

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DEVIL DOODLES - 8-1

Connecticut has started Block 6 going 4-8 to sink to a season low 15 games under .500 at 48-63 with 4 games still ahead with powerhouse Baton Rouge. But as bad a record as that is – it still doesn’t let the Blue Devils crack the Top 5 positions in the 2016 draft. Fortunately, with the draft looking to be very deep with prospects in the first round, CT management is confident they can obtain a premium player.

One surprise for the Blue Devils this year is Derek Jeter – playing his final season in the FBN. Jeter has seen action in 73 games batting .291 chipping in 7 doubles, 3 HR’s and 25 RBI - not bad for someone that many thought would just “ride the pine” most of the year. On the negative side, former fan favorite and top player – Grady Sizemore – has struggled mightily in his return from numerous injuries in the last 3 years. Sizemore is batting just .169 in 35 games – yet to hit a HR and has only 4 RBI. Tough to see him make the roster for next season without some marked improvement.

Although the CT pitching staff has a respectable 4.15 ERA, there are 3 starting pitchers that have offered no help this season. C.J. Wilson, David Phelps and John Danks are a combined 9-28 5.84 ERA in 48 starts – simply atrocious. On the positive side, rookie Jimmy Nelson has a 3.60 ERA and young southpaw Alex Wood is 7-6 3.17 so there is some hope for the future.

Finally, the Blue Devils continue to be on a pace for the fewest HR’s hit in team history. They are currently projected to hit only 88 HR’s for the season. The previous lowest total for HR’s in a season was 123 in 1990 & 1991. That mark appears set to be shattered!!

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 8-1

World Champion US Jarhead Scuttlebutt:

US Jarhead of the Month
Backup catcher Adrien Nieto beat out Seth Smith and Mike Trout to claim Jarhead of the Month honors in July. Nieto was given a shot in May and went 4-24 and earned a trip back to Parris Island. Since his recall in July he's been just as hot as the weather, ripping the ball at .386 on 32 for 83, bringing his season's avg to .336. And Nieto's not just hitting singles. He's popped 8 doubles, a triple and 3 HRs, good for 19 RBI. Despite the honors, Nieto is ticketed for Parris Island at the end of the block.

Kyle Kendrick, Gittin 'er dun... 15gs 6.15era 79ip 109h 16hr 18bb... and a 7-2 record!

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER - 8-13

New comer Evan Gattis batting .289 with 6 Hr's and 17 RBI in 23 games. Casey and GM Rickey hopes that Gattis will get some catching in at Houston this off season but it doesn't look promising.

After a 2-10 run power house Baton Rouge rolled into the School Yard. A very surprising 89ER sweep sends the Siver Bullets home unarmed. Jarred Cosart pitched the teams 4th shutout in the sweep. Hart Street was next and the team was back losing as the Hog's took all 3. After taking 2 of three from Yorktown we followed by losing 4 to John's Creek including the 15th time the team suffered a shutout. Nashville was next and they took 3 from us and Basement Bertha came a calling. We snapped the 7 game losing streak with a win against Lake Wobegon. The Whippets came back to win the last 2 games. Another play off bound team came to the School Yard, Arsenal. We sent the Gunners home unarmed also, taking all 3 games. (we got to play more teams with bullets or weapons. :-) Nick Martinez pitched a complete game shutout in game 1, 3-0 a five hitter. Block 7 started with a visit from Illinios. We stretched our winning streak to 4 games by taking game 1, 4-2 and sending Basement Bertha packing. Game 2 was a see-saw battle that we lost 10-9. In game three we don't show up to play so the Prairie Dogs kick dirt all over the School Yard and take an 11-1 win. Casey Stengel gets so mad he tips over the buffet table and tells the team, "That food is for players that try. You better get some hits and score some runs if you want to eat!" The team responded in game 4 with 14 hits and seven runs. Illinois could only mustard 12 hits. Oh yeath, they also got 9 runs :-(

All Time Leaders:
Robinson Cano needs 2 doubles to reach 400. He also needs 3 RBI to reach 800. Mark Melancon just passed K. Sasaki on the ALL-TIME list for 5th with his 60th save. Billy Wagner is number one with 173 saves.

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DEVIL DOODLES - 9-1

Heading into the final 20 games of the season, Connecticut needs to get 4 wins to avoid a 100 loss season – something that has never been done in their 28 season history. The worst record in franchise history was in 2010 when the Blue Devils went 68-94 – this season could be worse and will only be the 4th season under .500 in 29 years. It may be a lame goal but never having a 100 loss season is something that ownership is proud of.

With just 79 HR’s in 142 games, the Blue Devils are on pace to hit just 90 HR’s all season. This would crush the previous team record of only 123 in 1990 & 1991. Not too hard to see why the Blue Devils have struggled. Another key stat – Connecticut hitters have walked just 393 times while opponents have walked 507 times. To further show offensive futility, here are the leaders in key stats – Runs – 64 (Reyes) RBI- 63(Rios) and HR – 13(Valbuena). No one remotely near 100 runs or 100 RBI or 20 HR’s. Brutal!

Odd Useless Stat – Despite being 24 games under .500, Connecticut actually has a respectable 20-20 record in one run games. BUT . . in games decided by exactly 2 runs, the Blue Devils are 12-25. Not exactly sure what that says . . . I guess the team is somewhat competitive but doesn’t have the firepower to overcome deficits. Pretty much what we knew at the start of the season!

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 9-1

World Champion US Jarhead Scuttlebutt:

The Jarheads started block 7 in strong fashion, going 9-3, including a 6-2 road trip to improve to 18 games over .500. The hot streak saw the World Champs fall from 4th place to 6th place in the standings!

Recently acquired SS Jordy Mercer has been a solid contributor in his short USJ tenure. In 45 games he has 8 HR and 30 RBI and a .292 BA.

Denard Span scored his 100th run of the season. This is his first time at the century mark. Span is having a career year, batting .298 with 40 doubles, 7 triples, 5 HR and 18-0 SB.

Tough schedule ahead. The Jarheads next 3 series include 4 on the road vs The Yaks, and a home stand vs the 2nd place Halos and the 3rd place Wall Street Bulls.

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CHIEF NOTES - 9-2

The average FBN park is far more pitcher friendly than the average MLB park. This is the case every year. The median HR numbers in MLB this year are 10-9, compared with 5-6 in the FBN (using each park's avg HR).

The perception that War Memorial is a freak park because of the HR numbers of 9-19 is a reflection of how the league as a whole views a typical park (5-6 vs the reality of 10-9) and ignores the number of hitter friendly parks every year in MLB. For example this year, the following parks have higher or equal combined HR numbers: Cin 19-19, Mil 18-18, Col 16-16, NY(A) 17-14, Phi 13-16, Bal 18-10, Chi(A) 14-14. This is 7/30 (23%). I think of a freak as more of an extreme at the outer 5%, for example, Cin and Mil.

Some leagues force each team to pick an MLB park which it keeps from year to year, subject to the park's updated ratings. I'm not suggesting that we do this, but my guess is that it would increase scoring league-wide. On second thought, in this low run-scoring environment, maybe we do need some anti-pitching park legislation.

Bud

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DEVIL DOODLES - 9-29

The Connecticut Blue Devils closed out their 29th season in the FBN with a 68-94 record – tying their franchise worst mark from 2010. However, it was only the 4th season in 29 years that the Blue Devils were below .500. As disappointed as the fans were – hard to complain too much with the many years of competitiveness they’ve seen.

The team set some dubious franchise records this season on offense . . . or lack thereof. Connecticut scored just 614 runs – almost 100 runs less than the previous low mark last year in 2014 of 711. The team also set new lows in Batting Average (.249) breaking the old record of .257 in 2005 & 2014 and Hits (1,393) breaking the old record of 1,432 in 2005. Finally, the Blue Devils hit just 94 HR’s for the season breaking the previous franchise low record of 123 in 1990 & 1991.

Luis Valbuena was the offensive leader on the team with 74 runs, 67 RBI, 42 doubles and 15 HR’s batting .266. Alex Rios batted .288 with 14 HR’s and 72 RBI while Jose Reyes scored 77 runs batting .275 with 35 stolen bases. 1st rd pick Rougned Odor, just 21 years old, was pretty solid in his freshman season flashing some pop with the bat hitting 9 triples and 5 HR’s while batting .249. Yadier Molina had his worst offensive season as he battled nagging injuries all year hitting just .238 with only 11 doubles, 7 HR’s and 45 RBI. Chris Denorfia earns the distinction of having the lowest BA at .133 in 113AB’s. Derek Jeter finished his FBN career batting .255 in 119 games with 40 RBI.

On the pitching side, no major records were set but Drew Storen’s 1.31 ERA in relief tied Rob Dibble from 1991 as the franchise lowest relief ERA with minimum 50 IP. Second year southpaw Alex Wood had a respectable season. He kept his ERA under 4.00 all season until his final start vs. New England. Wood finished at 10-10 4.03 with 213 K’s in 185 IP – showing some good signs for the future. Rookie Jimmy Nelson, although his stats don’t show (3-7 4.60) also flashed some potential for the future as management hopes those two young arms can be mainstays in the rotation down the road. On the negative side, 4 starters – CJ Wilson, John Danks, Colby Lewis and David Phelps combined to make 76 starts with a sparkling record of 17-43 with a 5.62 ERA –Brutal!

The Blue Devils expect to be improved next year with some better starting pitching and more power but can they win enough games to be a wild card contender – could be tough. Connecticut looks to have the 7th or 8th pick in the upcoming draft and should therefore obtain a top prospect for the future.

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SCHOOL YARD CHATTER - 10-14

After two consecutive last place finishes what’s in store for the 89ERS in 2016? That was the question that was asked to GM Branch Rickey.

Offensive numbers: “With the worst offensive stats in 89ER history for Team average .242, Runs Scored 552 and RBI 518 we need to shore up the offensive. There is hope for 2016. Catcher, AJ Pierzynski improved his hitting with .300 in 407 at bats with 24 doubles and 9 homeruns. CJ Cron improved at first base hitting .262 with 17 doubles and 16 homeruns in 378 at bats. Robinson Cano did not hit .300 but he hit a solid .287 with 34 doubles and 21 homeruns. At short and third we have Eduardo Escobar who slipped a little to .262 from .275 but he had 31 doubles, 4 triples and 12 homeruns. We also have Jose Ramirez and Ryan Flaherty.

In the outfield AJ Pollock improved to .315 in 609 at bats with 39 doubles and 20 homeruns. That’s going to help us a lot because Pollock only had 265 at bats for 2015. JD Martinez average went down from .315 to a solid .282. He had 33 doubles and 38 homeruns. Our number one draft pick of 2015, Jorge Soler hit .262 down from .292 but he went from 89 at bats up to 366, a huge improvement. He had 18 doubles and 10 homeruns. Rajai Davis slipped to .258 from .282 but had 16 doubles, 11 triples and 8 homeruns. Will Venable had an improved year batting .244 up from .224. He also had 13 doubles, 3 triples and 6 homeruns in only 349 at bats. One of our biggest improvements will be at DH. We will have Evan Gattis for a full year. Gattis hit .246 with 20 doubles, and yes, 11 triples and 27 homeruns,” said Rickey.

If we can just reach the homerun numbers we could hit 199. Before management will decide to move in the chain-link fence at West Broad Street School to give the hitters a better ball park home run chance we will need to review our pitching staff to check out their homerun against numbers.

Pitching numbers: “The team ERA was a respectable 3.77. Our homeruns against was only 128. We have hope for 2016. In the last draft we needed innings. This draft we already have over 1200 of the 1325 innings that are needed.

We have seven starting pitchers for 2016 with good to fair numbers. Veteran, Andrew Cashner has 185 innings with 165 strikeouts and was 6-16 with a 4.34ERA. Rookie Trevor Bauer who had a 10 strikeout performance in his last start this year with the WC US Jarheads has 176 innings with 170 strikeouts. He posted an 11-12 record with a 4.55 ERA. Matt Shoemaker was 7-10 with 135 innings with a 4.46ERA. Nick Martinez who we got in the Kyle Lohse trade, has 125 innings and was 7-7 with a 3.96ERA. Alex Colome had 110 inning with a 3.94ERA with a 8-5 record. Our only left handed start is Roenis Elias. He was 5-8, with a 4.14 ERA in 115 innings. I talked with both of our pitching coaches; righty coach, Bob Feller and lefty coach, Warren Spahn and they think this staff will improve on those MLB numbers in the 2016 FBN season.

The bullpen looks strong led by four right handers. Mark Melancon with 77 innings, 62 strikeouts and a 2.23 ERA will be our closer again in 2016. It looks like he should have the same type of (card) season as in 2015. George Kontos should be much better in 2016. He improved to 73 IP up from 32. He only walked 12 batters in the 73 IP compared to 11 in the 32 IP in 2014. Brad Brach had 79 innings and a 2.72 ERA with 89 strikeouts. That’s up from 62IP and 54 K’s. Bryan Morris pitched one less inning in 2015 compared to 2014 in MLB. With 63 innings and a 2.72 ERA he should be solid. So far, our one lefty in the pen is Alex Claudio. He went for 12IP to 16IP this year. With a 2.87 ERA he’ll be our lefty specialist.

Looking forward for the draft and the 2016 season to begin.
Rob

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BATON ROUGE NOTES - 11-17

Congratulations to Don on a great team and a well deserved championship!

This was the best Baton Rouge team in our 28 year history and our third try at a World Series win. Maybe next time we can break through for a championship. Almost every team pitching record was broken by the 2015 staff. Only the fewest walks allowed record was not broken. Our hitting was average. It showed in the World Series as we managed only 12 runs in 6 games.

Yu Darvish, who will be sorely missed next year, was the team pitching MVP with a 2.08 ERA in 2 starts. Hitting wise, it is hard to pick an MVP but it would have to be Rizzo, who had 5 RBI hitting .240 with a game winning home run in the fourth game. The LVP was Devon Mesoraco, who will also be sorely missed next year, went 0-18 with no walks in the series. He was just ahead of Russell Martin who went 1-16 with 3 walks and no runs scored.

Next year looks bleak as none of our starters had good seasons. We will have very good defense again, perhaps better than 2015. Our hitting will be average to slightly above average with Rizzo and Brandon Crawford having good seasons, and the emergence of Pillar and Solarte to fill holes in the outfield and at third base. 2016 will be a season of healing as Darvish, Mesoraco, Profar (again), Doolittle, Cory Rasmus, Carl Crawford, and Ryan Zimmerman saw significant injuries and Ervin Santana being suspended for half the season. Looking forward to 2017.

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NORWICH NOTES - 12-4

Navigators Log- (Recaps)
Wow! Before I say anything else, congrats to my opponents for a hard-fought post-season! I was down 3-2 vs Roland, and 3-0 vs Bill! No ideas how the dice rolled one way or the other (I usually get to blame HAL, lol). Good starting pitching took me all the way home, and in a hard-fought series with Mike it held true. The bats were not much- I was outhomered 21-17, and an even more embarrassing 19-12 at home (why did I move the fences in, lol)? The ‘Gators did get a lot of folks on base, and in the end the timely HRs led to a 3.95 to 3.25 run score advantage during the postseason. The defense was good, but the opposition turned 24 dps to my 15. Norwich batted .239 for the postseason, not great, but the pitching kept Klees and Baton Rouge at the Mendoza line- the real battle was with the Jarheads as far as surviving a superior offense during the gameplay. Timely hitting was the key, as the Jarheads had a .817 OPS and .498 slugging for the series! Another element to the timely hitting was the RBI leader for the postseason- lead-off man Adam Eaton(11). Norwich had a .344 oba to compete, and pushed just enough runs over. Jordan Zimmerman never wants to see the Jarheads again, giving up 8HRs in 15 innings, lol. Joey Bats with a .971 OPS over the post season was the MVP, and Clayton Kershaw the Outstanding Pitcher, going 4-0 with a 1.99 era over 5 starts. Thanks again to my opponents, I felt that it was a good blend of FTF and netplay, and I’m looking forward to putting an effort to defend the title!

Gator Tales- (Projections)
The DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Norwich Navigators (got that out of the way) are looking reasonably well heading into their title defense. No “go for it” trades were made, so we’re reasonably well-off on draft picks. A few veterans will be let go, including DR Eric Young Jr., his clutch baserunning was greatly appreciated in his time here (47-14 SB/CS his last two seasons). Jared Burton, who’s card outperformed the stats for the season, and Grant Balfour, (who did cost me Wade Davis), but had a good run as team closer when one was sorely needed are off to retirement. Closer is again an issue, with Greg Holland bad, then broken for 17, and Santiago Castilla just bad. The lefties are better, with Sipp, Bastardo, and Siegrist forming a competent unit. The bats may be better by the numbers, but more platoons will be needed to make things work. Mike Moustakas has worked hard all season and will get a crack at the Opening Day 3B, vs lh and rh. Big Fatti has informed the team that the time is drawing near to retirement, so preparations will have to be made there. Chris Davis is back on Adderall, and back to crushing the ball. Kike Hernandez, secret weapon X vs Klee’s, will pray to HAL that his side vs LH is not cut down. Otherwise the lineup is remarkably similar to last yrs. We pick at the bottom of the first, and near the top of the third round on, so it will be a mix of future help and bullpen help, barring any trades. The rotation will be tough again, with Kershaw, Cueto, Salazar, Zimmerman, and the Shark (with not much bite in 16) getting the starts.

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