Ok – on the plane back to Minnesota – I should only experience about an 80 degree difference once we land – don’t feel bad for me – another great week of fantasy camp.
The two championship games did not disappoint – they were definitely fan pleasers (maybe not pitcher pleasing,…) – the Red Division game was off and going at 10am and I walked out to the mound with the idea of throwing strikes and keeping them off balance. The HrSamSki’s vs Walking Dead – the top of the 1st started with a leadoff double – the lefty hitter took an outside pitch and found a spot just inside the line – so great, gotta work out of this jam – ended up getting the next guy out followed by a base hit – 1st and 3rd with 1 out – got a strike out and a grounder to end the inning – whew, early trouble alluded.
Bottom of the 1st (and 2nd) the HrSamski’s get single run across the board and we feel good going to the top of the 3rd with a 2-0 lead – just as we were feeling good (and not FIELDING good) the Walking Dead put together some hits (yes they got some good hits off of me) and used the extra opportunities we were giving them to scrape together a 3 run rally and they have the lead 3-2 after 3 innings. I shut them down in the 4th inning and hoping we can put together some runs to get the lead back – in the bottom of the 4th that is what happened – a similar story – a few hits….a few errors and HrSamSki’s scored 4 runs to get a 6-3 lead. Breathing room….how nice. I headed out to the 5th inning feeling real good now – Walking Dead have a nice lineup but it is not Murderer’s Row by any stretch – I get the first two guys out (no problem….) but then I gave up 2 more hits and was able to get the 3rd out – but I was real frustrated as one thing you don’t want to do is to keep rolling that lineup and let guys see you the 3rd time (and the top hitters getting to the plate again) – so I was not happy with being able to shut down some of their hitters – the bottom of the 5th they got us to go quietly as well – we head to the 6th inning and they are bringing the top of the order up – and in fan friendly fashion – the Walking Dead put together another rally inning and score 4 runs to take the lead 7-6 – no doubt my pitching performance was not “top notch” but between the fielding being very below average (for our team) and the umpire not giving me a pitch or two on the inside corner – it was a rough one. I usually try not to be too upset with the umpires but this guy was giving me the outside (thank you….yes thank you) but these inside pitches are over the plate – but I digress.
We head to the bottom of the inning and we are in the same situation – top of the lineup coming up and hopefully able to scrape up some runs – since my memory is not so great – let’s fast forward – we have 1st and 2nd – 2 outs and our big stick Matt comes up to the plate – Matt hit .727 for us this week, so that was great to have him up – the pitcher uncorks a wild pitch – yay!!! Runners move up a base – but…..they pitcher is going to walk our big bopper to load up the bases. This will bring Randy to the dish – Randy has been sticking the ball all week – so just one more hit and should score 2 runs – Randy swings and lofts a high fly ball to the left field – the left fielder stumbled a bit and was not able to get the ball (one thing tough here in Florida is the sky is a very light blue – easy to miss a ball – plus the sun was out) so not sure if he didn’t track the ball – but we scored two runs on the misplay and now lead 8-7.
Top of the 7th inning was my inning to close it out – got the first out, next guy got on base, the next guy popped out (to me) – I made a running catch at the foul line by home plate – that just about killed me – my quads were to say the least – done, sore, tired…everything – I walked back to the mound, legs are feeling like jello, trying to catch my breath and get out there to finish off the last batter. The next batter laces a hit and now the tying run is on 2nd. The last guy in the lineup comes up – this means if he gets a hit, the leadoff batter (who had two good hits off of me) was going to come up – I induced a fly ball to right center and my only thought was “Please catch this ball…..please….” well Randy put the squeeze on the glove and the ball settled for the final out – oh my what a stressful game – I am not sure what the earned runs / unearned runs was – but I am thinking it was 3-4 runs unearned on our end (I think we plated 1-2 earned runs) – so the pitching matchup that was billed to be a good one didn’t happen. Another championship in the books – this was my 5th one in 7 years – wow, that is pretty amazing – let alone a 5-0 record on Saturdays – still pinching myself. This year was a strange one – with the rainout on Friday allowing us to move into the Championship without having to play in – not sure how we would have fared as our pitching was very thin – so a back to back playoff scenario would have real difficult for us to manage – so the formula for us to win this year worked out rather ‘perfectly’ – in the end it was a great week – just not in the normal fantasy camp format.
The Blue Division Championship faced off two very good teams Hello Newman and the WIldcats – I am not sure I have ever seen teams with lineups like both of these squads – of the 28 batters I would rate 20 of the hitters good to very good – normally a team has at least 2-4 batters that if you pitch them correctly it will be a strikeout or a weak ground ball (or just a slow runner – which helps out the chance of getting them out) – but I think I could really locate only 2-3 guys combined that might qualify for that – the other item is the superior pitching options both teams had which would normally neutralize many of the “good” hitters – well this game became a slugfest right from the beginning.
Newman scored 3 in the bot of the 1st – 3-0. Wildcats came back with 3 to tie it up in the top of the 2nd – 3-3. Wildcats then scored 3 in the top of the 3rd and it was 6-3 (which to be honest, was a shock – Newman brought in their ace and Wildcats were able to hit him). Newman came back with 2 in the 4th to make it 6-5 – they added 3 more in the 5th inning and they are back up 8-6. Of course I thought the game over – but the Wildcats get 2 runs in the 7th to tie it up and they hold Newman in the bottom to take the game into extras. We get to the 9th inning – the Wildcats scratch 2 runs on the board and now lead 10-8. Newman comes back and with the bases loaded – a 10-9 score – 2 strike count on the batter – the Wildcats pitcher throws (from our angle behind the plate) and it should have been strike 3….just sayin’ – but the batter gets one more pitch and takes one to right field for a hit and tying run scores and now it is 10-10. We head to the 10th inning – we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Twins World Series championship this year at camp, so fitting the game goes into the extra innings – just adjust the score slightly. The top of the 10th was quiet and the bottom of the 10th looked like a quick inning with the first 2 batters getting out – but the next two batters got on base – 1st and 2nd now with two outs – the next hitter hits one between 3rd and SS and runner on 2nd races around to score and the game is over in walk off fashion (a lot like 25 years ago) the Hello Newman! team wins the Blue Division championship.
The camp ends with the live and silent auction, dinner, and awards. The week is long, but it goes by quick – it is a bittersweet night as you have to say your goodbyes to many people who have enjoyed spending the week with. The awards are fun – so many good players at the camp now that I really never know who should get what award – a few years ago you pretty much know who should win certain awards – I was nominated for the under 50 Cy Young award – which is an honor but it went to a more deserving “pitcher” so happy to be a part of that group.
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Thanks to those who reached out to me by thanking me by writing the blog – one of these years I may not do the blog but I know I have some guys out there who enjoy hearing the stories and keeping up with the standings so appreciate those shout outs and those ‘loyal’ readers out there.
~~ "You can observe a lot just by watching." - Yogi Berra ~~