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Thread: Saving Baseball in Portland

  1. #1
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    Saving Baseball in Portland



    Portland Dolphins

    *************************************

    By 2013, baseball surpassed pro basketball and closed in on the National Football League in popularity after the 2011 lockouts.

    With the boost in fan support, Major League Baseball expanded for the 2016 season. American League franchises were awarded to Portland, Oregon and Orlando, Florida. Disney bought the Orlando team and set out to make it just another attraction at Disney World. The team was named the Wizards as part of its magic-themed amusement park near where the stadium was to be built.

    The Portland franchise was named the Dolphins even though the animal cannot be found off the coast of Oregon. The team moved into a bland, 50,000-seat stadium on the outskirts of Portland, which between the run-of-the-mill concessions and the horrible baseball team occupying it, wasnít much of a destination.

    In the teamsí first season, 2016, the Wizards were 60-102. The Dolphins, however, made history, and not in a good way. They were 37-125, the worst record for a major league baseball team since 1899. The horrible season was brought on by both bad luck and plain incompetence.

    Portland's first two selections in the expansion draft suffered season-ending injuries in April, while the teamís second starter disappeared in May and was never found.

    The General Manager was Bahaar Farooqi, a two-time World Cup champion cricket manager for Pakistan, who had watched only two professional baseball games in his life before drafting the expansion Dolphins. He built the best international cricket team in decades, but when it came to running a baseball team, he was horrible. He filled his team with overpaid veterans who could hit a few home runs per year but fielded worse than blind men and ran slower than Mo Vaughn.

    Farooqi was given the job by another Pakistani, the same man that sponsored the Pakistani national cricket team.

    In June of 2017, Farooqi left the country with the team in shambles. A 31-year old front office assistant named Ben Bluschman took over the team that eventually finished 31-131.

    In 2018, with Bluschman still the GM, the team kept its spot as the number one laughing stock in sports and finished 53-109, 56 games behind the AL West leader. Imen Nadir, the original owner, sold off the team for a $21 million loss and went back to Pakistan. 42-year old Burt Kellem bought the team for a reduced price after the 2018 season.

    Kellem was an innovative business man from Seattle, and his favorite thing about running a business was doing something completely crazy just to throw everyone else off. He vowed to tear the whole operation apart and completely start over.

    During his first week on the job, Kellem fired 53 team employees, including manager Mark Strittmatter and the entire coaching staff. He made plans for 2,000 outfield seats to be ripped out of PacifiCorp Field and replaced with a grassy area and a party deck.

    Kellem named himself General Manager and was ridiculed on talk shows for weeks. This guy doesnít know the first thing about baseball they said. Heíll never build a successful team.

    He immediately signed Tim Boggs [84], a 24-year old starter, to a two-year, $9.6 million contract.

    In 2019, the Dolphins went 52-110. Unlike in previous years, though, there were some bright spots.

    Scott Augustine, the teamís number one draft choice in 2016, hit 56 homeruns and led the major leagues during his breakout year. He was awarded $12.9 million in arbitration over the winter.

    The second highlight for the Dolphins was also a top event for all the MLB. The Dolphins selected shortstop Geoffrey Bowls [79/99] with the first overall pick. The 18-year old was by far the best teenager to play the game in thirty years. Many scouts gushed that he was a better shortstop than Alex Rodriguez had been at the same age, and that he would be the best professional hitter since Albert Pujols (685 homeruns, 3,167 hits)

    He could throw 98 miles per hour as a pitcher, and he could hit the ball 500 feet with a wood bat.

    Bowls was assigned to double-A in 2019 and hit .333 with 24 homeruns in 70 games. Many thought he would start at shortstop in 2020 and become the instant savior for the troubled franchise.


    Spring, 2020

    Burt Kellem got a call a day before his pitchers and catchers were to report to Peoria, Arizona. It was Joe Torre, the commissioner of baseball.

    ďLook, Burt, the Portland team has been an embarrassment to the league. Itís been a drain on resources and youíve had very low attendance. Iím not saying all is lost, though, Burt, but weíre about ready to take the franchise and move it out of town. Youíve got this season to turn it around. Good luck.Ē
    Last edited by twinsGM; 08-21-2011 at 11:39 AM.
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

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    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  2. #2
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    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    *Reserved*
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

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    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  3. #3

    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    nice..
    ďBaseball is like church. Many attend but few understand.Ē
    Wes Westrum

  4. #4
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    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    twinsfan1127: Thanks for the smiley. Made me smile.


    **************************

    One of the first pitchers to report to camp was Brad Lincoln. He was drafted back in 2006 as the fourth overall pick, and his career had been mediocre at best since then. He had multiple injury problems over the years, and didnít make his major league debut until 2010.

    In 2012, Lincoln went 11-5 with a 3.75 ERA at age 26. The Pirates thought that one of their top draft picks of the previous decade had finally paid off, but as it turned out, the performance was a fluke. Lincoln had two more 10-win seasons for the Pirates, but he also had at least 10 losses in both those seasons.

    Pittsburgh finally gave up on him after the 2017 season when he was 31 years old. The Dolphins, taking on as many low-risk, high-reward players as possible, signed Lincoln to a 2-year, $3.4 million deal just before spring training of 2018. He went 5-8 that season with a 6.49 ERA. He spent most of 2019 in triple-A, where he went 15-7 with a 3.29 earned run average.

    During spring training of 2020, Portlandís coaching staff, especially bullpen coach Josh Fogg, thought Lincoln had made tremendous strides since the previous spring.

    Lincoln became extremely frustrated over the last few years. In his mid-twenties with the Pirates, he kept thinking that he would eventually get better; that it was owed to him. When he was released from Pittsburgh, he finally realized he was never going to be the star the scouts thought he would be back in 2006.


    Coming into the 2020 season, Brad
    Lincoln had a career record of 63-65 coming into the 2020 season.

    He sulked through his first season in Portland, and when he was assigned to triple-A the next year, he decided he had had enough. He was sick of being a failed prospect. He worked out like he never had before in the winter. He threw everyday, and for once in his life, his main interest during the offseason wasnít hunting.

    When he came back for spring training in 2020 at age 34, his fastball velocity was up and his pitches moved more than they had in years. Josh Fogg knew Lincoln only had a few years left before his body wore down, and only a couple before his mind gave up on the game, so he recommended the righty for the rotation to the Dolphinsí pitching coach Clifford Palmquist, a failed first-round draft pick himself.

    Manager Mike Epstein was also impressed with Lincoln, and put him in for the fifth starter competition. However, Epstein was most excited about a particular hitter; a shortstop named Dustin Copenhaver [85].

    Epstein was more of a second hitting coach than the average manager, and a lot of his batting wisdom came from a close friend named Ted Williams.

    Williams managed the Washington Senators when Epstein played first base for the club. Epstein, like Williams, was obsessed with hitting. Naturally, they grew close to each other over long talks about mechanics and pitch selection after all the other players had gone out drinking.

    Over his nine year playing career with five different teams, Epstein his 130 homeruns and compiled a .244 average. His best season was for Williamsí Senators, when he hit 30 homeruns in 1969.

    Williams and Epstein generated their own hitting philosophy over the years, one very contradictory to the most common school of thought in baseball. Many coaches, from t-ball to the majors, taught their players to hit ground balls.

    Williams and Epstein thought this couldnít be more wrong. For one, the pitcher in pitching at a downward angle, and the batter swinging at a downward angle would make for only one small spot for the hitter to make contact. In other words, if the batter swings at an upward angle, aka the plane the ball is coming in at, he is increasing the chance he hits the ball.


    Ted Williams, left, talking with his good friend and former player Mike Epstein.


    In addition, coaches told their pitchers to get the other teamís hitters to hit ground balls, yet at the same time they instructed their own hitters to hit groundballs.

    Besides, many coaches were only in favor of ground balls out of fear that their hitters would pop up. There was no room for fear in the majors, though, Epstein always said. And if you can make a hitter good enough at hitting line drives, then he wonít pop up very much.

    He applied this philosophy to Copenhaver the previous spring, and his hitting improved mightily. As a slap hitter in 2018, Copenhaver hit .241. The next year, Epsteinís first year as manager, he hit .282. In the spring, Copenhaver was even more impressive. He ended up hitting .381 during exhibition games.

    He started the season batting second, behind left-fielder Josť Ordonet. Ordonet was a fourth-round draft pick by the team in 2017 and a five-tool-player. In 2019, Ordonet hit .302 with 10 homeruns and 59 RBI; he stole 16 bases and didnít make an error in over 1,100 innings in the field.

    Ordonet could have hit third, too; it really didnít matter to Epstein. Like Alfonso Soriano did before his calves ruined his career in Chicago, Ordonet could hit in any slot and be as effective as anyone.


    *************************


    Burt Kellem liked his team about ten times more than he had in the spring of 2019, but he still wasnít completely confident in it. There were still too many parts left over from Bahaar Farooqiís reign as GM. His bullpen might as well have been a 200-car train that rolled over into a toxic waste pool. It was a complete disaster.

    Not one of the guys slated to pitch out of the bullpen recorded an ERA under 4.00 the year before. Naoshige Nose, an Japanese free agent Farooqi spent $18 million to sign, had a 7.36 ERA in 73.1 innings as the closer.

    Some of the discontent for the bullpen was made up by the potential of the rotation, which went like this:

    [with 2019 stats]

    1. Jamie Ahman [90/95] 9-8, 4.18 ERA, 117 K in 153 innings
    2. Ben Berner [88/93] 6-17, 6.01 ERA, 110 K in 157.1 innings
    3. Tim Boggs [84] 5-24, 6.68 ERA, 143 K in 186 innings
    4. Heitor Correa [77] 3-5, 6.80 ERA, 27 K in 46.1 innings
    5. Brad Lincoln [73] 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 16 K in 26.2 innings

    Despite some of the awful records, Kellem was pretty excited. The team gave very little run support to the pitchers last year, and Ben Berner still had a lot of time to develop his pitching. Tim Boggs was unusually horrible in 2019 after having a 3.66 ERA with Milwaukee in 2018. In his six years before coming to Portland, his highest ERA was 4.74 for a season.

    Kellem worried that Boggs gave up on his team too often; and that he would continue to do so in 2020. However, the 2020 Dolphins were way better than the 2019 Dolphins. The 2020 Dolphins had a shot of being a .500 team. They had to have a shot, though, of at least finishing in third place, or they would be taken away and moved after the season by the commissionerís office.

    Kellemís most compelling argument for why the 2020 Dolphins were going to be good was Geoffrey Bowls. If one thing was going to save baseball in Portland, it was Bowls. He was the most exciting athlete for the Northwest since Kevin Durant. And even though Durant couldn't save the Supersonics in Seattle, Kellem was confident Bowls could do it for Portland.

    He hit .342 with four homeruns in spring training, and when he opened 2020 in triple-A, he hit .341 with 13 homeruns in a little over a month. He was only nineteen years old, but on May 8th, Bowls was called up to the big leagues.

    By that date, the Dolphins were 16-17. They were 4-2 in May despite designated hitter Mitchell Grantís .323 batting average.

    With Copenhaverís stellar performance in the field and at the plate up to that point, Bowls was stuck in the DH spot, batting sixth. For that game against the Oakland Aís, hereís what the lineup looked like:

    [with 2020 stats through 34 games]

    1. Jay Austin, CF [77/79] .275 AVG, .357 OBP, 7 steals, 1 CS
    2. Dustin Copenhaver, SS [85] .342 AVG, .394 OBP, 4 HRs, 4 steals
    3. Josť Ordonet, LF [78] .230 AVG, .317 OBP, 0 HRs
    4. Scott Augustine, RF [85] .250 AVG, .360 OBP, 5 HR, 19 RBI
    5. Eric Lalor, C [85/89] .323 AVG, .355 OBP, 7 HRs, 26 RBI
    6. Geoffrey Bowls, DH [77/95] no MLB stats in 2020
    7. Charlie Davis, 1B [79] .298 AVG, .398 OBP, 6 HRs, 28 RBI
    8. Jeremy Kilgour, 2B [84] .244, .290 OBP, 4 HRs
    9. Virgil Leach, 3B [73] minimal MLB stats in 2020

    Kellem acquired Austin on May 1st to ignite the lineup. Kellem gave up another second baseman who .298 two years before but was slumping below the Mendoza Line in April. Kellem wasnít too worried about him, but he knew Austin was an upgrade (the Dolphins also gave up a reliever for him), and giving Kilgour playing time was not going to hurt the team at all.


    AL West Standings as of May 8th, 2020
    Code:
    Team        W  L  GB
    
    Texas       22 12  -
    Oakland     21 12 .5
    Seattle     22 14  1
    Portland    16 18  6
    Los Angeles 11 25 12
    Last edited by twinsGM; 04-25-2011 at 04:40 PM.
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  5. #5
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    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    May, 2020

    Burt Kellem didnít usually visit the houses of his players, but on the early morning of May 18th, he found it necessary. Police were called to the home of 25-year Dolphins reliever Jack Pierse just outside of Portland, and not for a domestic violence case or drug overdose that many would suspect an athlete for.

    Pierse was actually a very reserved person who hardly ever took advantage of a woman or used a drug. In fact, he lived with his mother in a two-bedroom home and rarely did anything in his free time without her.

    Pierse had a history of mental issues, and he had been on medication to treat schizophrenia since he was 15. By May, his mental illness led to a condition known as Capgras Delusion in which a person thinks that a loved one has been replaced with an identical imposter.

    Pierse was able to keep his schizophrenic thoughts of evil teammates and unlucky spots on a field at bay for his first few years of pro baseball, but in 2020, Pierse cracked under the pressure of being a regular big league middle reliever.

    Pierseís case of Capgras led him to believe that his mother had been kidnapped and replaced by another person while he was on a road trip with his team in Minnesota. Pierse laid awake at night until 2 a.m. all three days in Minneapolis, constantly entertaining the thought. When he arrived home, he couldnít push it out of his mind, and by his second day back, he was convinced it was true.

    He locked his mother in the basement of the home and started to light the place on fire. Luckily, she had her cell phone in her pocket at the time and called 911. She put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but the police had a tough time negotiating with Pierse to let her free. He refused to leave the house, and from the front porch, claimed he had a gun to police.

    Kellem watched from across the street as a large police officer spoke into a megaphone. He threatened to bust down the door. Pierse still didnít come out of the house. The police chief didnít want to enter because he was afraid that Pierse may be holding his mother at gunpoint.

    Finally, after an hour-long standoff, the police were able to lure him out of the home by promising to arrest the ďimposterĒ. The officers put Pierse in handcuffs and took his sobbing mother out to a team of medics a few yards down the street.

    Pierse was flailing and screaming, but when he saw Burt Kellem, his mouth stopped moving. His face turned slightly red, and he looked down at the ground as he was led into the squad car.


    *************************

    It was 3:30 a.m., a few hours earlier than Kellem wanted to start his day, but he went off to the local Starbucks anyway with a triple-A roster and his laptop.

    Some doctors at the local Portland hospital said Pierse would need at least two months before he could even think about baseball, while others said he was probably done pitching for good.

    Kellem traded a career minor league starting pitcher for double-A reliever Chuck Hudson (70/73) to fill Pierseís spot that morning. The Dolphins lost their first two games after Pierseís incident. The clubhouse was unusually quiet, even though no one on the team ever hung out with or knew a thing about the reliever

    The mass media had a fun time rehashing all the tragedies that had occurred with the Dolphins. In the spring of 2016, a starting pitcher was kidnapped and never found. In the fall of 2017, a drunk driver plowed through the gift shop connected to the stadium and killed five people during a game. Along with Pierseís event and the record amount of losses in its first four years, the Portland franchise seemed not just cursed, but damned by Satan himself.


    Considerable Events in May

    -The Dolphins were 17-11 in May
    -Geoffrey Bowls (75/94) separated his shoulder and went to the DL on May 24th. After a good start to his season, his average had fallen to .232 in 15 games.
    -Third baseman Marc Kaufman (75/77) went to the DL on May 17th. Virgil Leach (75) returned from the DL to take his spot.

    May 22nd: Jamie Ahman (90/95) went 8 shutout innings against the Yankees to improve to 6-1. By the end of May, he was 6-2 with a 2.88 ERA.

    May 28th: The Dolphins won 1-0 on a walkoff hit by Bowls' replacement at DH, Jose Zenteno (77).

    Notable performances:
    -Ben Berner (88/93) is 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA.
    -Catcher Eric Lalor (85/89) has 15 homeruns, fourth-best in the AL.
    -Shortstop Dustin Copenhaver (85) has a .357 batting average, second-best in the AL.

    AL West Standings as of June 1st, 2020
    Code:
    Team        W  L  GB
    
    Texas       35 20  -
    Seattle     34 23 2.0
    Oakland     32 22 2.5
    Portland    28 27 7.0
    Los Angeles 20 36 15.5
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  6. #6
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    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    The Dolphins were hanging in at 38-35 by June 21st. Most of the players had bought into the sense of urgency that Mike Epstein had tried to convey. The Dolphins were on pace for the winning record they would need to stay in Portland, but Burt Kellem still saw a glaring hole that in his mind, would be the thing to keep the team from 81 wins. The bullpen was horrible (there was only one reliever that Epstein could count on regularly, closer Shane Lindsey). At first, Burt though that acquiring a reliable pitcher with a salary of about $1.5 million was a no-brainer, considering the payroll was only slightly over budget and a good reliever would help Burt keep the team. However, there was a bigger problem facing Burt.

    The scouting department sent Burt an updated roster each week, with each player that the Dolphins owned, their statistics (minor and major) and a single scouting score from 1.0 to 10.0. This was the organizationís most valued number for every single player, their ultimate rating for everyone. Looking down the list, Burt saw nine players ranked 9.0 or higher. Eight of those players were either arbitration eligible or had contracts set to expire by the end of the 2020 season. With so many quality players set to ask for a large increase in pay, the Dolphins faced a financial disaster just a few short months away.

    Burt had a decision to make: he could trade for a solid reliever and lower the amount he could use to re-sign his core players later; or he could risk losing the franchise by not adding a reliever but instead cutting payroll before the trade deadline. If he got a reliever, the team would be worse off for later years, but if he shed payroll in 2020, he risked some of his chance of winning that season and made it more possible that he would lose the team.

    Burt went across the hallway to the assistant GMís office. Stephen Duff was a 37-year old Yale grad and was utilized more than any other assistant GM in the game. Because Kellem did not have as much of a baseball background as most GMs, he relied on Duffís statistical analysis and keen eye for talent. Naturally, the two tried to obtain the best of both worlds: a trade that brought the Dolphins a reliever and allowed them to cut payroll. Burt compiled a list of his most expensive players that werenít very valuable to the team while Stephen looked for the biggest bargain relievers available.

    Burt came up with Mitchell Grant, the teamís usual pinch-runner who had a salary of $860 thousand. If Burt could trade Grant, then he could call up a triple-A outfielder with similar skills that made only a fraction of Grantís salary. Stephenís task was a little more difficult. There were very few effective relievers that made the minimum big league salary of $560 thousand. Stephen did find a couple however, including lefty Tim Brinkler of the fourth-place Kansas City Royals. He had a 3.32 ERA up to that point, and best of all, he was owed $307,654 for the rest of the season compared to $472,469 for Grant. That was $164,815 of cost Portland could shift over to the Royals while still gaining a reliever.

    Tim Brinkler's 2020 stats
    Code:
    Team  W L  ERA   IP  H   BB  K  SV  BS
    KCR   3 2  3.32 21.2 24  12  17  8  2
    Burt called up the Kansas City Royals front office, and while suggesting the trade to the assistant GM on the line, he decided to toss in the teamís triple-A catcher, just to see if he could get the Royals to eat even more salary. A moment passed, and Burt was connected to the GM. A moment later, a smile cracked over Burtís face. Not only would the Royals take Mitchell Grant off Burtís hand, they also wanted his fifth-string catcher. The Dolphins had a large supply of quality catchers (their third-stringer, Ross Wood, would have started on quite a few major league teams).

    While many coveted the top three of four catchers of Portland, Burt though that Deron Kerrison [72], with his $1.3 million salary, was completely undesirable for other teams. The Royals, however, were interested. Their weakest position was catcher, so they eagerly jumped at the chance to acquire Kerrison. The Royals thought it was a great deal because they would get a starting catcher in exchange for just a middle reliever
    .
    Burt couldnít believe his luck. Not only would he dump Grantís remaining salary over to the Royals, but he would also be free of another $714,198 owed to a worthless triple-A catcher. That would cut $879,013 from Portlandís payroll and still give the team a good reliever. That amount of money wouldnít have mattered much to a team like the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies, but in Portland, management was doing everything short of crawling through the aisles after games picking up spare change to keep the teamís finances afloat.


    *************************

    Dustin Copenhaver broke his hand the next night in Chicago. The doctor said it would take between four and five weeks for him to recover. Dustin was hitting .341 at the time, but Epstein didnít worry as much as people thought he would have. Geoffrey Bowls, recently benched for his .220 average, was penciled in at shortstop in the second batting slot the next night. Epstein though Bowls was only struggling because he was forced to DH and the bottom third of the lineup, both of which caused him to question his talent.

    Epstein thought that Bowls would go right back to crushing pitches once he was put back into the top of the order. Sure enough, the first night after Copenhaverís injury, Bowls went 1-for-3 and also drew a walk in a 4-2 win. Brad Lincoln went seven innings to extend his personal win streak to three. The Dolphins won again the next night, 12-10, and headed back home with a 40-36 record, 5.5 games out of the wild card. The players werenít just thinking about .500 anymore. They were eyeing the playoffs.
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  7. #7
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    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    Mr. Burt Kellem,

    Due to alleged violations of Major League Baseball rules, your organization will be under investigation starting on July 1st, 2020. A team of investigators will look into reported incidents of sign-stealing through video tape by team employees, which is a violation of MLB rules.

    The investigators will decide if your team is guilty of the violations or not, and any necessary disciplinary action will be taken by the commissionerís office. While the investigation is taking place, your employee Paul Garretts must be put on paid leave from his position. We will be interviewing various team employees and looking around in your stadium where we see fit to. Thanks in advance for your cooperation
    Regards,

    Bill Giles, Chairman of MLB Playing Rules Committee.


    Paul Garretts was one of the scouts/talent evaluators who sat behind home plate and watched every single Dolphins game. Paul was very good friends with first-base/infield coach Tony Apperazda, who recommended the scout to Burt Kellem when Burt first took over the team.

    Apperazda was a fairly quiet man who preferred to sit in the back of the dugout while the other coaches conferred at the front railing during games. His claim to fame was during his playing days, when he hit an RBI single to tie Game Six of the 2016 NLCS in the ninth inning with two outs. Tony, then an infielder for the Colorado Rockies, stubbed a ball 60 feet down the first base line, and as Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol came over to grab the ball and sweep tag Apperazda, the ball came loose and squirted out towards the first base dugout.

    It was ruled an infield single, but instant replay showed that Apperazda had slightly altered his path as Marmol approached and clandestinely kicked the ball. It should have been called runnerís interference, the runner from third should not have scored, and the Cubs should have been called winners at that moment. Instead, the play was a no-call, Apperazda scored on a double by Ian Stewart a batter later, and Franklin Morales shut the door in the bottom of the ninth to clinch the series.

    Apperazda retired after the Rockies lost in the World Series to Boston, and joined the Dolphins as a coach for the 2017 season. He tried to get his childhood friend Paul Garretts a job during his first year with the Dolphins, but management didnít bite. Burt Kellem took Apperazdaís suggestion two years later after he fired over a dozen scouts and couldnít find enough people to fill the positions.

    First-Half MVP: Eric Lalor (with AL Ranks when in top 10)
    Code:
    G  AB  R  H  2B   HR     RBI    AVG   OBP
    70 271 43 81 10  25(1)  74(1)  .299  .338
    After he read the letter twice, Burt called Paul Garretts from his office. He sheepishly declined to tell his side of the story. Burt called the head of the scouting department, but he didnít answer. He then called manager Mike Epstein, who said he knew nothing about any sign-stealing, but would talk to his coaches.

    Burt watched the final game between his Dolphins and the Detroit Tigers from his office later that night. The accusations ate away at him the whole game. He desperately wanted to know what had happened. Was his team really cheating? The Dolphins lost that game 10-8 and dropped to 41-41 after the sweep in Detroit.

    Burt got on his computer and pulled up his teamís schedule, which was almost perfectly symmetrical: after three months of play, the Dolphins had played about half their games and had three more months for the second half of their season. They had lost exactly half their games and had won the other half. The team had 80 games left. If they won 41, Portland kept the team. If they lost 41, Joe Torre was taking the team and moving it out of Oregon.

    Burt was already being ridiculed for his incompetence by local radio stations. Many thought he should have gone out and acquired a top-notch reliever to ensure that the team stayed in Portland. Tim Brinkler, Kellemís latest acquisition, had been a disaster up to that point. In five games with Portland, he had gone three innings and given up 12 earned runs. He singlehandedly gave away two games, including his second game on the team when he gave up a two-run lead by walking in three runs with the bases loaded.

    Burt, swallowing his pride, was preparing for a second try at acquiring a relief pitcher. If he had to shell out some actual prospects this time, he would do it. If he was going to do a trade again, he was going to make sure it would work out. No more low-risk, low-reward players like he had trained himself to trade for the past two years.

    *********************


    2020 Hitting Stats, through June 30th
    Code:
    Player Name		P	AB	PA	H	HR	R	RBI	K	BB	TB	Avg	OBP	SB
    
    Ordonet, Josť		LF	307	343	83	8	46	44	44	31	122	0.27	0.341	10
    Lalor, Eric		C	271	299	81	25	43	74	70	17	170	0.299	0.338	2
    Austin, Jay		CF	269	298	67	1	44	16	56	25	90	0.249	0.322	16
    Copenhaver, Dustin	SS	267	291	91	8	46	38	27	15	134	0.341	0.388	5
    Augustine, Scott	RF	261	306	69	15	48	42	57	41	132	0.264	0.373	2
    Davis, Charlie		1B	222	262	61	13	34	54	19	29	108	0.275	0.366	8
    Kilgour, Jeremy		2B	221	242	52	9	29	24	40	20	92	0.235	0.302	3
    Zenteno, Jose		CF	219	243	56	9	36	30	40	16	96	0.256	0.321	8
    Kaufmann, Marc		3B	145	162	37	5	21	12	23	16	64	0.255	0.333	1
    Bowls, Geoffrey		SS	127	143	28	3	17	6	35	13	38	0.22	0.308	2
    Evens, Glen		3B	99	110	15	2	10	6	20	9	23	0.152	0.227	0
    Leach, Virgil		3B	83	91	20	1	8	13	23	7	30	0.241	0.308	2
    McCloud, Brian		C	63	67	15	2	4	4	18	3	23	0.238	0.269	0
    McVicar, Elvis		2B	56	64	12	1	7	7	9	8	20	0.214	0.313	2
    Wagenaar, Rob		RF	24	28	5	0	4	2	7	4	5	0.208	0.321	0
    Wood, Ross		C	22	29	6	2	4	3	2	5	13	0.273	0.414	0
    Irigoyen, Ricardo	LF	10	10	2	0	0	0	3	0	2	0.2	0.2	0
    Preston, Dale		1B	7	8	1	0	1	0	0	1	1	0.143	0.25	0
    Lerner, Tony		SS	5	5	4	1	2	4	0	0	7	0.8	0.8	0
    Hunter, T.J.		CF	3	3	1	0	1	0	0	0	2	0.333	0.333	0

    2020 Pitching Stats, through June 30th
    Code:
    Player Name		Games	Starts	W	L	ERA	IP	K	BB	H	SV	HD	BS
    Ahman, Jamie		18	18	8	5	3.39	111.2	90	30	109	0	0	0
    Boggs, Tim		18	18	6	5	5.47	97	79	46	106	0	0	0
    Berner, Ben		15	15	6	6	3.69	95	71	26	86	0	0	0
    Lincoln, Brad		13	13	6	5	5.18	81.2	48	16	86	0	0	0
    Stevens, Todd		26	0	0	2	5.55	47	30	14	61	0	2	1
    Correa, Heitor		8	8	3	1	4.99	39.2	29	15	45	0	0	0
    Shepherd, Warren	11	3	1	4	6.58	39.2	19	12	53	1	0	1
    Dunham, Philip		6	6	1	5	6.03	31.1	18	17	33	0	0	0
    Vegerano, Josť		28	0	1	0	5.64	30.1	13	12	48	0	3	2
    Takani, Kiyosuke	7	2	1	1	2.54	28.1	14	14	17	0	1	0
    Lindsay, Shane		30	0	2	0	4.78	26.1	27	26	28	10	1	3
    Nose, Naoshige		25	0	1	2	5.13	26.1	21	14	30	7	3	2
    Hudson, Chuck		17	0	4	1	6.48	25	15	14	35	0	0	0
    Brinkler, Tim		28	0	3	4	7.3	24.2	18	18	32	8	3	3
    Luczak, Hunter		15	0	0	0	4.01	24.2	21	13	19	0	1	0
    Pierse, Jack		9	0	2	0	3.72	9.2	10	3	7	0	3	0
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Colorful Colorado
    Posts
    1,324

    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    Eric Lalor collected two hits in the All-Star game down in Tampa Bay, while the rest of Portlandís players scattered to various parts of the country for their mid-season vacations. Jamie Ahman, perhaps the player most dedicated to his team in Portland, took his family out to Colorado after he was snubbed from the All-Star Game so that he would be ready when the team arrived for a series at Coors Field after the break.

    The Dolphins were 43-45 at that point. 39 more wins until they clinched a winning season, 37 more losses and there would be no more Portland Dolphins. Jamie Ahman and Ben Berner were ranked eighth and ninth respectively in the American League for ERA. Eric Lalor held two-thirds of the AL Triple Crown with 27 home runs (it was a tie though) and 81 RBI (the next-best mark was 73). Lalorís average was .306, compared to .368 for the league leader, so it seemed very unlikely that he would win the Triple Crown.

    Instead of praising Lalorís amazing hitting, most national talk shows focused on the negative. Lalor played catcher, so many analysts argued that he would wear down as the season went on. These TV shows loved to show the statistics: The Dolphins had played 88 games, Lalor had played 75 at catcher, and zero at any other positions. It wasnít that Lalor couldnít play anywhere else (he also started at first base and in the outfield in college); the Dolphins just couldnít afford to put him anywhere else.

    Brian McCloud, one of the teamís top hitting prospects, went down with an injury in June, so there wasnít much of a backup to fill-in for Lalor. Besides, the regular first-baseman, Charlie Davis, had 15 homeruns, so Mike Epstein didnít want him out of the lineup.

    Epstein, for the most part, agreed with the analysts, and he decided that when McCloud returned from injury (July 13th, the doctors said), Lalor would play more at first and McCloud would catch. The problem with McCloud injured was that Lalor was by far the best hitter on the team, and they just couldnít afford to put some chump in at catcher while Lalor played first. With Dustin Copenhaver, the teamís leading hitter at .341, still out for another two weeks, the Dolphins needed all the offense they could get. With the bullpen imploding (every relief pitcher had an ERA over five through the break), Lalorís offense was even more valuable.

    Management almost considered signing a free agent from the Northern League to come be the set-up man, but he declined the Dolphinsí offer of just a tad over the minimum salary. Donovan Ellington of Florida was Burt Kellemís newest target, a left-handed reliever with a 2.20 ERA. The Marlins were in dead last (25-65, 34.5 games out) and looking to sell off any pieces they could for prospects. Ellington was owed $868,000 for the remainder of the season and $1.9 million in 2021. Kellem would have to take a small financial hit to acquire the reliever, and he would have to give up some halfway decent prospect.

    *******************

    July 13th
    At Colorado Rockies: Tim Boggs (6-6, 5.71) at Christian Friedrich (6-3, 5.04)

    Brian McCloud and Eric Lalor were both back in the lineup for the first time in three weeks. McCloud had two hits and an RBI while Lalor got one hit in a 3-1 win over Colorado. Because Portland lost the first game of the series, they were 44-46. Mike Epstein thought the team was back on track, until the injury bug struck yet again. Lalor took a spike to the ankle while catching a throw in the ninth inning, and the doctors said heíd be out for two weeks.No Copenhaver, with the third-best average in the league, and no more Lalor, with two-thirds of the Triple Crown, at least for two weeks. Epstein worried about what the team would do without their two top hitters. He pulled Scott Augustine, who was hitting .265 with 16 homeruns, into his office shortly after the announcement.

    After hitting 56 homeruns in 2019, Augustine was on pace for about half that in 2020. Augustine looked up to Epstein because of his deep knowledge of hitting, and Epstein knew it, too. While Epstein would have threatened some players about their effort, he simply asked Augustine to try harder for his manager.
    July 14th


    At Colorado Rockies: Heitor Correa (3-2, 4.88) at Jeremy Wyma (6-4, 3.99)

    Scott Augustine came up to bat in the top of the second, and took a fastball that he thought was a couple inches inside with two balls and two strikes the count. The umpire didnít agree, and he punched him out. Augustine returned to the dugout, took two mighty whacks at a Gatorade cooler and threw his bat against a brick wall in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse so that it shattered into a million pieces. Geoffrey Bowls homered in the fourth to break up the no-hitter, so Augustine got the chance to hit after Josť Ordonet popped up. He grounded out, was hit by a pitch later in the game and, and walked in his final at-bat. The Dolphins lost, 12-5, as the bullpen gave up eight runs. The Dolphins were set to make their way back to Portland, for three games against the first-place Chicago Cubs and then three versus the Kansas City Royals, who were 39-53.

    AL West Standings, through July 14th
    Code:
    Team        W    L     GB
    
    Seattle     53   39    -
    Texas       52   39    .5
    Oakland     52   40    1.0
    Portland    44   47    8.5
    Los Angeles 40   53    13.5
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    87

    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    does Jeremy Bowls = Geoffrey Bowls?
    League Membership
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Colorful Colorado
    Posts
    1,324

    Re: Saving Baseball in Portland

    Quote Originally Posted by icefreeze57 View Post
    does Jeremy Bowls = Geoffrey Bowls?
    Uh...yess. Awful typo. See, this is why I stopped writing this dynasty...
    My Dynasty:

    Saving Baseball In Portland

    *************************

    My Retired Dynasties:

    The Day Baseball Changed Forever: Part 1
    Dynasty Hall-of-Fame nominee

    The Decade Baseball Changed Forever: Part 2

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