Presenting the winner of the inaugural Quad Cup

As the battle continues to rage for World Champion honors of the 2019 season, we pause to announce the winner of the inaugural Quad Cup.

No, it’s not an athletic supporter for your quadriceps. As we realign our divisions for the 2020 season, we look back at the four years recently concluded (a quadrennial) and recognize the best-performing teams over that stretch. While we close the book on this four-year run, we note that 13 of the league’s 15 franchises made at least one playoff appearance in that time, with the Westbound Division proving to be the most brutal, as four of the five teams notched winning records in the span, and the fifth was not that far off with a .495 mark.

Third place: Applegate Paperclips, with a four-year win percentage of .545 (349-291).  The Clips managed 80+ wins in each of the four seasons while competing in the league’s toughest division, one of only two franchises that can claim to have done so. In fact the Clips have winning records in seven of the eight years since the league expanded to 15 teams. But, only in 2018 did the Clips make the playoffs during this quadrennial. That was the year of their 101-win season and seven-game defeat in the World Series.

Second place: Margaritaville Volcanoes, with a four-year win percentage of .572 (366-274), including playoff appearances and World Series titles in their matching 106-win seasons of 2017 and 2018.

First place: Superior Titans, with a four-year win percentage of .578 (370-270), trips to the playoffs in three of the four seasons, and a World Series crown in 2016. Superior was anchored by the offensive core of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, Miguel Cabrera, Lorenzo Cain, Corey Seager, Nick Ahmed and Kyle Schwarber over this span, as well as the starting pitching of Noah Syndergaard and Corey Kluber.

 

West 2016 W 2017 W 2018 W 2019 W Total W Total L Pct. Playoffs WS titles
SUP 101 88 98 83 370 270 0.578 18, 17, 16 16
APP 84 82 101 82 349 291 0.545 18
BTH 94 91 50 99 334 306 0.522 19, 17, 16
SAT 82 78 83 84 327 313 0.511 19
DBB 90 85 82 60 317 324 0.495 16
North 2016 W 2017 W 2018 W 2019 W Total W Total L Pct. Playoffs WS titles
MAR 80 106 106 74 366 274 0.572 18, 17 18, ’17
GRZ 94 93 61 72 320 301 0.515 17, 16
BUS 72 83 89 83 327 314 0.510 18
TAT 72 86 60 91 309 332 0.482 19, 17
BIS 67 55 80 70 272 368 0.425
South 2016 W 2017 W 2018 W 2019 W Total W Total L Pct. Playoffs WS titles
SGP 87 78 91 79 335 306 0.523 18, 17, 16
SAV 72 71 90 89 322 319 0.502 19, 18
DYT 53 76 88 91 308 333 0.480 19
NNY 95 57 36 102 290 351 0.452 19, 16
WAT 58 72 87 41 258 382 0.403
  • Greendale was East Cobb in 2018 and Springfield in 2017, 2016
  • Tatooine was Michigan in 2016

Also worth noting: Three 90-plus win seasons (and a 50-win season) that led to three playoff appearances for Boulder, and three playoff appearances (including two division championships) for South Grand Prairie. New New York gets the Yo-Yo Award for posting win totals of 95-57-36-102, while Dyersville earns the Best Trajectory Award for going 53-76-88-91. Destin draws “You’re Going the Wrong Way!” honors for its 90-85-82-60 slate, while Satellite Beach captures the Consistency Award for always winning 81 games, plus or minus three (82-78-83-84).

 

Superior caps spectacular surge with record-tying sixth world championship!

Displaying a finishing kick that would make Usain Bolt proud, the Superior Titans and Manager Mike Renbarger completed their late-summer and autumn dominance of the league with their franchise record-tying sixth world championship, fending off the Springfield Isotopes in six games to walk off with top honors as we concluded the 37th season of play in the I-75 league.

Walk off they did, as catcher A.J. Ellis broke a 2-2 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Springfield ace Clayton Kershaw by nailing a ballpark homer chance on just 1-4 odds, shooting a 2.

A 3-9 ballpark HR roll off Clayton Kershaw, featuring a '2' roll on 1-4 chances, provided the walkoff winning margin.

A 3-9 ballpark HR roll off Clayton Kershaw, featuring a ‘2’ roll on 1-4 chances, provided the walkoff winning margin.

The victory gave Superior its third straight win in the series, as it had to battle back from a 2-1 deficit, much as it had to shake some early-season doldrums when it failed to deliver on some pretty high preseason expectations. Despite a superstar-laden lineup that included reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, plus Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo, Superior was plodding along with a good-but-not-great 56 wins after 100 games, which at the time landed the Titans in the middle of the competitive Westbound Division, five games off the pace set by John Renbarger’s Boulder Tree Huggers.

Then the Titans caught fire, reeling off 17 wins in August and 14 in September to climb into a first-place tie, and end up winning the division by a seven-game margin following a 14-win October. Superior’s 101 regular-season wins earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

A six-game victory over those Tree Huggers in the semifinals lifted Superior into the finals against Dave LaMont’s Isotopes, who were vying for their first World Championship in their 19th year in the league. Continue reading

Never happened in MLB, but it’s happened in Strat: 5 HRs by…

Giancarlo Stanton slugged a record 5 homers in a 23-4 win. (Photo by Corn Farmer/Flickr)

Giancarlo Stanton slugged a record 5 homers in a 23-4 win. (Photo by Corn Farmer/Flickr)

It’s never happened in the history of major league baseball, and certainly not in the 37 years of the I-75 Strat-O-Matic League. But in their May series against the Dyersville Treblemakers, the South Grand Prairie Warriors’ Giancarlo Stanton had a historic accomplishment as he cracked a record five home runs in SGP’s 23-4 rout.

Stanton clubbed an eighth-inning grand slam in his sixth at-bat of the game to cap the epic performance that saw him rack up 10 RBIs. The Warriors stroked nine homers in the blowout en route to a 12-8 record in May.

Stanton bashed three homers off Dyersville starter Wade Miley, going deep in the first inning (solo), second (two-run blast) and fourth (two-run shot). Then with Vidal Nuno on the hill in the eighth, Stanton hit both a solo homer and grand slam as part of an eight-run inning.

In his other at-bat, Stanton struck out in the fifth inning.

Paul Goldschmidt also had a strong game, with a 4-5-3-5 line that included two homers. The game was played in Fenway Park, a Warriors home game on a night the weather was rated ‘bad.’

Sixteen major league players have had four homers in a game, most recently Josh Hamilton for the Texas Rangers in 2012, but no one has ever had five.

“It was a crazy game for sure,” said Warriors manager Garth Lewis.

Longtime league observers could not recall a four-homer game taking place in the league. Gary Sheffield had a three-homer, 12-RBI game for the Michigan Drifters in a July 1997 game against the Bismarck Bombers.

[1]BOXSCORE: 2016 Dyersville Treblemakers At 2016 S Grand Prairie Warri 5/9/2016

[1] Treblemakers        AB R H RBI AVG       Warriors                AB R H RBI AVG
A.Eaton RF                    5  0   1    0   .220       D.Lemahieu 2B     4   2  3    1    .311
S.Piscotty LF                 1  0   0   0    .286       C.Santana DH       5   3   2    2   .214
A-J.Gallo PH,LF          2  0  0   0    .333         P.Goldschmidt 1B  4   5   3    5   .401
F-A.Sanchez PH          1   0  0   0   .000         G.Stanton RF      6   5   5   10   .277
K.Wong 2B                   5   0  0   0    .253         C.Gomez CF           6   2   3   1   .389
J.Abreu 1B                    5   1   3   1    .281         D.Valencia 3B        3   1   0   0   .136
K.Seager 3B                  3   1   1   0   .265         D.Norris C              5   2   1   2   .258
M.Kemp DH                 4   1   2   0   .229        G.Blanco LF           4   1   1   1    .206
B.Swihart C                  4   1    2    2   .333       D-M.Scherzer PH  1   0   1   0  1.000
G.Polanco CF               3   0   0   0   .244        E-A.Ethier LF        0   0   0   0   .250
A.Simmons SS             3   0   1   1    .232         A.Russell SS           2   0   0   0   .197
B-P.Gosselin PH         0   1   0   0   .273
C-M.Duffy SS               2   1   0  0   .293
— — — — — — — —
[1] Totals                     36   4   10   4                   Totals                     42   23   19   22

A-Pinch Hit For Piscotty In 3rd Inning
B-Pinch Hit For Russell In 5th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Gosselin In 6th Inning
D-Pinch Hit For Blanco In 8th Inning
E-Subbed Defensively (LF) For Scherzer In 9th Inning
F-Pinch Hit For Gallo In 9th Inning

Treblemakers…. 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 –  4 10 3
Warriors……..      4 3 0 2 6 0 0 8 x – 23 19 1

[1]Treblemakers (11-33)          IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
W.Miley LOSS(0-4)                   5 13 15 14   4    4    6    8.16   A1 D5
V.Nuno                                          3  6   8   8   3    3    3    9.00  D6
[1]Totals                                        8 19 23 22   7  7    9

[1]Warriors (27-17)                   IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
J.Hammel WIN(5-2)                 5  6    1   1     2    4    1   4.31 A1 C3
M.Estrada SAVE(1st)                4  4   3   3    2    4    0    4.61 C4
[1]Totals                                       9 10  4   4    4    8    1

ATTENDANCE- 26,081 DATE- Thursday, May 9th 2016 TIME- Night WEATHER- Bad
T- 3:36
LEFT ON BASE- Treblemakers: 9 Warriors: 3
DOUBLE PLAYS- Treblemakers: 2 Warriors: 1
ERRORS- K.Wong, A.Simmons, V.Nuno, G.Stanton
DOUBLES- B.Swihart(1st), C.Gomez(1st)
TRIPLES- B.Swihart(1st), D.Lemahieu(1st)
HOME RUNS- J.Abreu(5th), P.Goldschmidt-2(10th), G.Stanton-5(13th), C.Gomez(1st),
D.Norris(6th)
RBIs- J.Abreu(19th), B.Swihart-2(2nd), A.Simmons(15th), D.Lemahieu(16th),
C.Santana-2(30th), P.Goldschmidt-5(44th), G.Stanton-10(28th),
C.Gomez(2nd), D.Norris-2(20th), G.Blanco(11th)
CAUGHT STEALING- M.Kemp
SACRIFICE FLIES- D.Lemahieu
WALKS- J.Gallo, K.Seager, G.Polanco, A.Simmons, D.Lemahieu, C.Santana,
P.Goldschmidt-2, D.Valencia-2, P.Gosselin
STRIKE OUTS- A.Eaton, J.Gallo-2, K.Wong, J.Abreu, B.Swihart, G.Polanco,
A.Simmons, P.Goldschmidt, G.Stanton, C.Gomez, D.Valencia-2,
G.Blanco, M.Duffy
GIDP- K.Wong, C.Santana, D.Norris
WILD PITCHES- W.Miley

A look back at Expansion Era, Chapter One

With the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, we close Chapter One on the 15-team Expansion Era of the I-75 League.

Next year we begin Chapter 2, with reshuffled divisions, so let’s look back at the four years since we ballooned from 12 to 15 clubs.

Quick quiz: Only two teams made the playoffs all four years. Can you name them?

Not Chatfield. Although the Choo-Choos won three division titles with 100-plus-win-seasons, and had the most wins of any club over the four-year span with 387, they also posted a clunker in 2013, winning just 55 games.

Actually, 11 of our 15 teams made the playoffs at least once. Three of the four who didn’t were expansion teams (English/Destin, Michigan, Satellite Beach).

And then there’s Hickory.

The Nuts last cracked the postseason in 2011, when they won the World Series, but since have hit the skids, due in part to a series of high draft picks that have either been injured or haven’t realized their potential (Wil Myers, Michael Pineda, Gregory Polanco).

The team with the second-most wins in the Expansion Era might be a surprise. It’s Applegate, with 358, thanks to two division titles sandwiching two mediocre years.

So who could it be? Four straight playoff appearances and not among the top two in wins over that time period?

How about never-seems-to-be-rebuilding Savannah? Ding! The Scorpions are one of the two clubs that made the playoffs all four years, and had the third-most wins with 353. The Scorps in fact have made the playoffs in six of the last seven years, and the one year they missed (2011) was only due to a Game 161 tiebreaker loss to Applegate.

OK, give up on the other club?

Continue reading

In our 36th season, our first perfect game: Applegate’s Tim Hudson whitewashes Hickory

Applegate’s Tim Hudson hurled what is believed to be the first perfect game in the 36-year history of the I-75 League, holding Hickory without a baserunner — or even a close call — in a 6-0 victory July 3.

Hudson struck out nine and retired all 27 hitters he faced, striking out pinch-hitter Javier Baez to close the contest. Tim_Hudson_14Hickory had three split roll chances at singles, all at 1-10 odds or less, and missed all three.

Hudson, a 4e15 pitcher, also fielded a Pitcher (X) roll cleanly with one out in the ninth. Hudson, who improved to 7-5 on the year with a 3.18 ERA, was making his first start since May, having been inactive in June.

“I wasn’t even really aware he had a no-hitter going until about the sixth inning,” said Paperclips manager Gary Kicinski. “We grabbed an early lead and got our defensive guys in there early, and I noticed in the sixth Hudson hadn’t allowed a hit, but I couldn’t really remember if he’d walked a guy or not.” Continue reading

1992 Convention: The Uncut Video

Our longtime managers are quite familiar with one of the most remarkable moments in I-75 League history, that being the no-hitter that Nolan Ryan pitched for the Tropical Heat against the Ansbach Angels at the 1992 convention — a moment caught on tape and preserved for the ages.

We uploaded that video to YouTube in 2010, tagged it “Strat-O-Matic” among other things, and to date it has amassed more than 3,000 views.

Today we present the uncut, unedited, 24-minute version of the video from that convention, which marked the start of our 13th season. We were blessed to have a full turnout of all nine managers that year.

The video shows, among other things:

* Softball action, and batting practice with a young David Hart. His dad captures a popup of David’s with a nifty behind-the-back catch at the 3-minute mark.

* Off-the-wall predictions from each of our nine managers.

* Early-season Strat action, including that no-hitter tilt between managers Jamie Turner and Steve Hart. (Note that it’s after 1:30 in the morning and Steve Hart is still awake.)

* A Steve Bizek headstand.

* And lots of other condo scenes.

Enjoy.

A look back at our 2012 expansion

Part I of a five-part series looking back at the 2012 expansion draft.

“And with the 217th pick in the 2012 Draft, the English Pigdogs select…. Nathan Eovaldi.”

History does not record whether anyone proclaimed, “Good pick!” or cursed and muttered, “I was just looking at him.” More likely, most of the league had stopped paying attention since they were done drafting. After Eovaldi, only five picks remained.

Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

Yet Eovaldi is notable as one of just 19 players among the four expansion teams who was selected or acquired prior to the 2012 season and remains with his original club as our 2014 season winds down. That’s 19 out of 145 players — just 13%. Eovaldi was the latest player chosen to hold that honor.

That’s right. In less than three full seasons, 87% of the players who were originally drafted or acquired by the four expansion teams prior to Opening Day 2012 already have been cut or traded.

In this five-part series, we look back at the league’s expansion plans at the time and examine the status of each of the four clubs that came into being that year — the Iowa Cyclones, Michigan Moneyballers, Satellite Beach Brawlers and English Pigdogs, now known as the Destin Beach Bums.

If the goal of the structure of the expansion draft was to allow the clubs to build for the future, the player turnover seems to indicate either a flaw in the plan or an impatience on the part of the new franchise GMs. But does that even matter?

Continue reading