All Forums > SimLeague Baseball > SimLeague Baseball > Some things learned building a theme league team
4/22/2013 1:45 PM
These are not meant to be rigorous analysis, just some interesting things about a theme league team-building experience regarding some 1970s teams.

This team is for rmarsh915's "1970s 7-pack" theme league which should be fun. He had done a lot of work putting together a large number of packs using a "snake" method combining very good with very weak teams from across that decade. You pick one of the packs and build a team with a $100 million budget and 25 players, no AAA, WW etc. 

I picked pack number 9 because it had a couple of teams I liked and admired from that period.

The 1974 New York Yankees were one of my favorite teams ever, a team I lived and died with at 14, listening to most of games in my room (did I mention I was 14 ? The TV was in the family room and the family was who I wanted to avoid usually). They were neck and neck with the Baltimore Orioles who throughout my child seemed like the Frost Giants of Viking mythology or something, a force of doom that could be not prevented. The Yankees finally came up short on the last day of the season when George Scott of the Brewers beat them with a walk-off hit and the Orioles came back to win their game. 

The 1971 Athletics instead were a team I admired and would over the following years. For reasons not entirely clear to me to this day, despite living in New Jersey and being a Yankees fan I loved the Oakland sports teams of the early 70s, my passion for the Raiders being not necessarily inferior to that for the Yankees. And the As were more likable to me than the Orioles, if only because they weren't the ones we could never hope to catch in our division, but also because they had more personality (Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter and Reggie v. Jim Palmer - it's a no-brainer). 

The other teams in the pack are  the 1976 Orioles and Atlanta Braves, the 1975 Giants, the 1978 Blue Jays and the 1970 Houston Astros. The latter were the only team I had a vague memory of and I might have been able to tell you for sure that Phil Niekro pitched for the Braves and Grich played for Baltimore. Beyond that I would have had difficulty identifying these teams.

So here is what I figured would happen: the team would mostly consist of Athletics as starters, supplemented by Yankees who would get the benefit of the doubt where two players were even. I had to have a minimum of 3 players from each team, which meant mathematically that 7 was the max for any one team.

BUT, it ended up very differently. For one thing I learned that despite how very well they played, the 1974 Yankees consisted mainly of players who had off-seasons: Munson, Murcer, Chambliss, Nettles, Stottlemyre, and on and on -the whole core of either its previous stars such as they were or of the dynasty that was soon to follow had bad seasons. How they nearly overtook the Orioles is beyond me, but they played great that year is all I can say. 

The one player I knew I wanted, the one that dominated that season, who seemed to be everywhere at once, was Elliott Maddox. He did hit .300 but had little power and was a good but not a great fielder. His OBP was what in retrospect we were watching and was a new concept for Yankees baseball at the time. I also took Lou Piniella, who did not have an off-season, but was surprised to find that Sparky Lyle was not at his 1972 or 1976-7 level either, though in the end budget issues and the quotas for each team had more to do with why I could not get him onto the team this time. I took Rudy May whom I recalled being good but who really was that year in a long relief role and as spot starter, and Steve Kline who had few IP, but a good set of stats.

So, hardly a Yankees-fan's utopia. Stranger is that I ended up with only three Athletics - Vida Blue who had one of those seasons that makes you feel young and the world in perpetual Spring even when you are middle aged; Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers - hardly original or creative of me. 

The surprise is how good the Houston Astros were in 1970. To be sure, none of their pitchers made it onto the team, because there were others better from the other teams (the rotation is Jim Palmer '76, Blue, Montefusco '75 and Andy Messersmith '76). But Jim Wynn and Cesar Cedeno in the OF, and almost the whole starting IF - Doug Rader (one of the under-rated players of the era IMO), Joe Morgan and Denis Menke (his best season) all come from that team and it was a tough call to not take Lee May as well, but both for the kind of team I wanted and the need to have other players I took Willie Montanez from the Braves. 

Cedeno won't start, but he and Piniella are as good a set of backup OFs as you could want. The rest are the starting team. 

How good could the Astros have been ? Could they have come up with some pitching and been the dominant team in a couple of years instead of the Reds ? I don't know but talent they sure had. So, a nice bit of baseball history learned. 

I also learned how bad a bad team can be: I usually figure that even bad teams have one sort of star, the 1960s Bobby Murcer or Sam McDowell, the 1990s Mike Sweeney, the 70s Steve Carlton. But in the case of the Blue Jays, yikes ! I took their catchers and a marginal utility player. The Giants had Chris Speier and it was a close call between him, Menke and Belanger but I took the latter two, the last for his incomparable defense. 

So it went. It was fun, and I learned a lot. Should be a nice league. Hardly earth-shaking insights here, but for me a learning experience about an era I thought I knew well. 
4/22/2013 4:44 PM
bet you boogerlips skimmed this.  way too many words for him
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4/22/2013 5:54 PM
Both of you, I want a 25 page research paper, double spaced but normal margins and 12 point font, on 1970s baseball using the MLA method of citations in my sitemail inbox by tomorrow morning ! 

Dang sound-bite generation ! 
4/22/2013 5:58 PM
A whole bunch of smart-seeming people who keep arguing in favor of all the Ayn Rand/Von Hayek/Milton Friedman brain-rot but then let you know that they actually can't read two pages. 

But then they will tell you self-assuredly that Keynes and Marx are wrong. hmm, I guess they are relying on the abridged, classic comics versions ? Or maybe Tweeter? That would explain it. 
4/22/2013 6:00 PM
So, here is the haiku version for attention-span arrested boogerlips and possibly for some who are hiding their own ADD behind jokes about BL: 

Most of team not As
Astros '70 were good
Yanks fun not their stats

4/22/2013 7:03 PM
Posted by italyprof on 4/22/2013 5:58:00 PM (view original):
A whole bunch of smart-seeming people who keep arguing in favor of all the Ayn Rand/Von Hayek/Milton Friedman brain-rot but then let you know that they actually can't read two pages. 

But then they will tell you self-assuredly that Keynes and Marx are wrong. hmm, I guess they are relying on the abridged, classic comics versions ? Or maybe Tweeter? That would explain it. 
For what it's worth, I find Friedman to be mostly brain-rot, Rand to be a decent mix of genius and rot, and Hayek to be mostly genius; though Hayek was far from an original genius. He just was good at putting together in concise ways what others figured out and took tomes to convey (or vast disparity of languages). 
4/22/2013 7:42 PM
I actually don't disagree with most of that assessment - Hayek may have been (from my point of view) an evil genius but genius he was. And if you read past the idiotic "Road to Serfdom" (Serfdom by the way, by definition is like Slavery, completely a product of the private sector, there was no state to speak of in Medieval Europe), to his more serious works, yes, there is originality there. 

I would not say Rand had any genius except perhaps for self-publicity and a little for organization on a small scale, though she apparently made an impression on the people around her. 

Friedman had a brain but let his propagandistic goals outweigh the intellectual seriousness he was capable of. 

None of them are remotely in the league of Adam Smith, about whom see the late Giovanni Arrighi's "Adam Smith in Beijing". 

Now, back to baseball please. 
4/22/2013 7:49 PM
Anyhow my point was mostly that in putting together a 7 team conglomerate team from the 1970s era, I found that the 1970 Houston Astros were a remarkable team. I recall the Morgan for Helms trade, but beyond that do not recall who they got for Lee May. Whoever it was, the Reds stole their lunch and maybe their dynasty and destiny. 

I have always thought that whatever grain of truth there may be in some periods that "The Yankees buy pennants", no one forced Cleveland to trade Graig Nettles and Chris Chambliss to them, nor did anyone insist on the Pirates trading Dock Ellis and Willie Randolph for Doc Medich. 

Why did Houston trade away these players ? Why didn't it get the pitching to back up what was at least briefly the second best infield after Baltimore's and two-thirds of an all-star OF ? 

Don't ask me. I got hammered by Bill James himself for suggesting on the great man's website that Cashman is not a great GM. Somehow paying $25 million for the rest of the millennium for a guy who won't be at 3B, and having to get once very, very good and even now admittedly well-performing players like Overbay and Youkalis because you have literally no farm system left doesn't seem like genius. 

The Reds would have been good, maybe great anyway. But they might have had some competition at least in the early part of the decade. And the Astros were a heck of a lot more interesting than Steve Garvey. 
4/22/2013 10:55 PM
Posted by italyprof on 4/22/2013 5:58:00 PM (view original):
A whole bunch of smart-seeming people who keep arguing in favor of all the Ayn Rand/Von Hayek/Milton Friedman brain-rot but then let you know that they actually can't read two pages. 

But then they will tell you self-assuredly that Keynes and Marx are wrong. hmm, I guess they are relying on the abridged, classic comics versions ? Or maybe Tweeter? That would explain it. 
If it doesn't have a picture on every other page I get lost pretty quick.

4/22/2013 10:58 PM
4/23/2013 8:02 AM
Posted by italyprof on 4/22/2013 5:54:00 PM (view original):
Both of you, I want a 25 page research paper, double spaced but normal margins and 12 point font, on 1970s baseball using the MLA method of citations in my sitemail inbox by tomorrow morning ! 

Dang sound-bite generation ! 
Italyprof...if this is a history paper it needs to be in Turabian or Chicago, not MLA. As an academic you should know that. 
4/23/2013 8:08 AM
Posted by italyprof on 4/22/2013 7:49:00 PM (view original):
Anyhow my point was mostly that in putting together a 7 team conglomerate team from the 1970s era, I found that the 1970 Houston Astros were a remarkable team. I recall the Morgan for Helms trade, but beyond that do not recall who they got for Lee May. Whoever it was, the Reds stole their lunch and maybe their dynasty and destiny. 

I have always thought that whatever grain of truth there may be in some periods that "The Yankees buy pennants", no one forced Cleveland to trade Graig Nettles and Chris Chambliss to them, nor did anyone insist on the Pirates trading Dock Ellis and Willie Randolph for Doc Medich. 

Why did Houston trade away these players ? Why didn't it get the pitching to back up what was at least briefly the second best infield after Baltimore's and two-thirds of an all-star OF ? 

Don't ask me. I got hammered by Bill James himself for suggesting on the great man's website that Cashman is not a great GM. Somehow paying $25 million for the rest of the millennium for a guy who won't be at 3B, and having to get once very, very good and even now admittedly well-performing players like Overbay and Youkalis because you have literally no farm system left doesn't seem like genius. 

The Reds would have been good, maybe great anyway. But they might have had some competition at least in the early part of the decade. And the Astros were a heck of a lot more interesting than Steve Garvey. 
IP...it was Morgan for Helms and May.

They also traded Cuellar to the Orioles for Curt Blefary

and Le Grande Orange to the Expos for Jesus Alou

4/23/2013 9:23 AM
seamar - I am not a historian, I'm a sociologist and political scientist. BUT I do hate MLA - the association AND the citation system.  So it was a joke. I actually like footnotes, the decline in the use of which is only one sign of the decline of our civilization since neoliberal free market capitalism and postmodernist gobble-di-**** took over our intellectual world. Like college basketball being more popular than baseball. 

Whenever we finally restore democracy and classic republican (not GOP) values, people will put interesting insights about the book they are citing in footnotes at the bottom of the page as when the world was young, and kids will go back to hitting balls with a bat and learning to throw a curve ball with a wiffle ball. 

Even boogerlips has a point: illuminated manuscripts would be nice to go back to also. But then I live in a city where buildings in the town center, which people actually go to to walk around in at night, are beautiful and have been there since the Renaissance. 
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