by "Word" Smith
All Time League correspondent to the Keokuk Gate City Daily
Union League, Atlantic Division
the City of Brotherly Love come to love this ragtag collection of
sluggers like Boomer Scott and Jim Rice, slashers like Wade Boggs (and
will Margo make him chicken in Philly?) and Matty Alou, and more
Japanese secondbasemen than there are in heaven? Will the pitching of
Bob Gibson (if trade rumors are false), King Carl Hubbell, Randy
Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown be enough
to overcome the hitting of Pete Runnels and Bert Campaneris? Probably
not. This club has the best front-line pitching in the league, but
somebody's got to score. Unless a deal for some hitting comes through,
the A's will be looking upward at Newark all year.
City partisans won't like this little screed of mine, but here's a
flash: on the mound, quantity ain't the same as quality. Eighteen
pitchers! Jeepers, they could have their own scrimmage game before
position players report. Unfortunately for the Beanies, only one of
those eighteen is Juan Marichal. Among the hitters lurks the Number One
Overall Draftee, Babe Ruth. Also, they have three catchers whose names
begin with the letter S. I'm grasping, here, folks. Will this team
really go north with only one firstbaseman (Eddie Murray) and one
thirdbaseman (Akira Ito)? I smell a deal involving some pitchers. Hey,
Boston, meet Philly. Philly, meet Boston. Maybe they could co-op, like
some of our local high schools . . . .
Are you from Joisey? This club is, and sweet merciful Bugs Bunny, they can HIT.
Ventura and Jones at third . . . Doby, Willie Mays, Indian Bob Johnson,
Five O'Clock Lightning in the outfield . . .Joe Cronin and Buck Leonard
. . where does it stop? And the pitching is at least OK. I mean, The
Candy Man, Satch, Big Looie, Iron Man . . . they've got the best
collection of nicknames around, and they can do some pitching too. The
class of this division, no doubt. But a couple of key (outfield?)
injuries could make this a real horse race.
in the free agent market. Art imitates life, or something like that.
The Yanks have the best catching platoon in the business (Berra and
Fisk), the best leadoff hitter ever (Rickey Henderson), and two nasty
closers (Righetti and Lee Smith). So why are they going to finish last?
Well, the rest of the pitching is even worse than the Beaners. Plus,
it's a tough division.
The A's will go as far as their pitching will take them. Which won't be
past Newark, but they could make it interesting. The Yanks will outlast
the Beaneaters in the battle for the cellar. Ruth will be the division
MVP, but it won't help.
4. New York
Union League, Continental Division
week, Papa Hemingway bet me a double sawbuck that I couldn’t get
through this piece without using the moniker “Pale Hose.” Guess
he wins. I hear some smart alec from the Garden State wrote in to
take issue with my reference to the Jersey accent, so I won’t say
anything about “Da Bears” fans in Chitown. Anyway, this club’s
got some potential, as long as Weaver and Cicotte don’t get together,
if you get me. Hey, doesn’t Billy Williams belong on the other
side of town? If Dick Allen stays away from the track, if
Campanella doesn’t get hurt, if Dr. Mike Marshall can pitch his usual
106 games, if, if, if . . . . this team has some serious potential.
happy will Superfan Drew Carey be? This club truly emphasized its
Cleveland connections in the draft . . . is that a good thing? We
all know Keeler hits ‘em where they ain’t, but Albert Belle hits ‘em
where they can’t get to . . . on the street. The front line
pitching may good enough – Sudden Sam, Addie Joss, Smoky Joe, Big
Ed Reulbach – but will the bullpen bring them home? Will
Keku make a successful transfer to the shores of Lake Erie? If
everything breaks right, this team has some serious potential.
may rock, but Motown swings, and Cobb is the guy that starts the
swinging. With Colavito, Kaline, and Frank Robinson sharing
right, you might hear the baseballs screaming in the
U.P. But . . .after you get past Rocketman, can this
rotation get enough people out? Great closers, but do they need
four of them? Are Ray Boone and Bob Horner the answer at
third? Some questions, but clearly, this team has some serious
Big Train comes home to Union Station in D.C. And Eckersley
closes it out for him. Okay, that’s one win every five
days. How about the other four? Blitzen Benz and Babe Adams
are not exactly the names that come to mind when “All Time Great
League” gets mentioned. And catching may be a question
mark. But you look at the hitters . . . is there an outfielder on
this roster that doesn’t cause pitchers’ dry cleaning bills to
skyrocket? And they can platoon The Big Hurt and The Crime Dog at
first, for Pete (Browning)’s sake. But if Larkin goes down . . .
who is the shortstop, me? I’m busy. Obviously, though, this
team has some . . . ah, you get the idea by now.
One thing is obvious: I don’t know who the hell is going to win
this division. And you don’t either, so don’t look so smug.
. . . . or not.
Union League, Pacific Division
I hear there’s some sort of holiday coming up, so I thought I’d get the
last part of this nonsense in early. Personally, I only celebrate
Opening Day and my birthday, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is
about. Anyway, on with the ballclubs:
humble correspondent spares no effort in research, or at least in using
up an expense account. So I went all the way to Japan, trying to
find the town of Orix. Imagine my amazement to find that this
team plays in Kobe. Now all I know about Kobe is the beef, so I
never did find the ballpark. But let me tell you, Universal
Studios Japan has the greatest thrill rides since the Tri-Gammas back
in college. Oh, yeah, the team. Frankly, I don’t see much
that impresses me, except for Cal Ripken, of course. Bonds (the
elder) is solid, so is the Olerud/Fielder platoon, so is . . . well,
everything, actually: solid but unimpressive. That’s not
enough with these horses.
got DiMaggio back. And they got Oscar Charleston. Come on,
guys, how many legendary centerfielders can one team really
use? How can you argue with a team that can platoon guys
named Bags and Boog at first base? They got Boyer, they got
Alomar, they got George Davis, they got Christy Mathewson . . . uh, the
other teams DID show up for the draft, didn’t they? Possible
question marks at C and second-line pitching, but hey, they’re gonna
win the division anyway, just get over it.
what the hell was management thinking when they put this bunch
together? These guys are either going to show up drunk, beat each
other up in the locker room, or sell the game to the highest
bidder. Okay, Rose can play, when he’s not selling his game
jersey to a kid in the bleachers, and some of these guys can hit the
ball, but really, now. Obviously somebody showed up drunk on
Draft Day. Welcome to the cellar, population: you.
I thought this
was the San Fran team. What? Oh, wrong Giants. And
speaking of Oh, they didn’t get him. They did get a whole lot of
other Japanese players, which is somewhat unfortunate in the context of
the present narrative, since I happen to know exactly shinola about
Japanese players. From what I can puzzle out, though,
Yonamine and Kawakami will probably hit, Noguchi should be OK on the
hill, and in any event the whole package ain’t gonna beat out the
Seals, although they should do better than their countrymates in Kobe.
1. San Francisco
4. St. Mary’s Academy for Tiny Little Girls from Antarctica Who Have Never Played Baseball Before
(It should be noted that Word Smith has an undisclosed controlling share in the Seattle ballclub)