League Updates Uncategorized

Charm’d, I’m sure

A couple of events this week have set me to thinking about the fundamentals of life.

Here’s the latest one:

I e-mailed my family yesterday with the news that I have been selected for the final round of interviews for a position at the Oregon School Boards Association as a Board Development Specialist.  When my second son Ben saw I have to write a 400-word essay by September 23 as part of the interview, he sent me the following: 

Here are some professional tips 

1) Don’t procrastinate 
2) Stretch out your paragraph
by removing apostrophes
to get to 400 easier.
Example: Wasn’t–> Was not
                  Haven’t–> Have not
3) Follow tips 1 and 2
Disclaimer: Please don’t actually do any of this 😂

I don’t know where I’d be w’out Ben.  In all of my 64 years, 35 of’em spent reading undergraduate papers,  I hadn’t ever noticed you could stretch a 380-word essay to 400 just by decontracting your contractions.  

If only ’twas that easy.  My problem’s much more likely t’be how t’cram m’original 900-word essay into 400.  You’ll be surprised t’read this, but I generally think I’ve a lot t’say and th’world needs t’hear it. But Ben’s insight has that covered, too, if you just flip it over:  you can get a good ways from 900 to 400 by contracting the uncontracted. “Never use two words when one will do,” they say, but they might’ve also said “never use two words when a contraction’ll do.” 

What’re the odds I’d receive this brilliant insight just in time for my first job interview in over 35 years, from my 18-year old brand new college freshman son?  D’you think ’tis mere chance?

If you’re tempted t’think so, you’d better consider the photo headlining this update.

That’s the neighbors’ tree lying in my back yard. It fell there last Monday evening in the windstorm that hit Western Oregon just after I drove to Seattle.  There’s a fence along our boundary, but this tree snapped off about 30 feet above the ground and fell over the fence without hitting it.   The trunk of the tree and its branches just missed the play structure I built for Ben and Sam when they were three.  Two of our trees were within range of the fallen one, but it came down neatly between them. The top of the fallen tree barely brushed our back deck.   

Why didn’t the entire tree fall?  Out of the 360-degree arc in which it could have fallen, how did it find the approximately 3 degrees in which it could do no real damage?

Maybe it’s just a fluke.  Lots of trees fell in that storm on people’s houses.  Lots and lots more trees burned in the ensuing fires, and whole towns were lost.  Probably I shouldn’t make too much out of one precisely-placed tree fall, and one precisely-timed bit of writing advice previously o’er-looked for six decades. 

But where’s the fun in that?  This is a fantasy league, friends, not a grim reality show.

EFL Standings for 2020
Kaline Drive 27 21 .553 218.1 193.8
Haviland Dragons 26 22 .548 0.3 239.3 216.9
Flint Hill Tornadoes 26 21 .543 0.5 249.7 238.3
Peshastin Pears 24 24 .498 2.7 257.7 251.1
D.C. Balk 22 26 .460 4.5 219.6 238.0
Cottage Cheese 22 26 .455 4.7 247.3 273.6
Bellingham Cascades 21 26 .454 4.7 237.7 273.7
Canberra Kangaroos 20 28 .413 6.7 241.3 290.5
Old Detroit Wolverines 19 28 .401 7.2 219.9 270.0
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 17 30 .352 9.5 213.1 290.2
Portland Rosebuds 14 34 .295 12.4 222.1 346.5
Kaline: W 2, L 0; 10 – 2.
AVG: 0.235 OBP: 0.409 SLG: 0.647 OPS: 1.056 PA: 22
ERA: 0.64 WHIP: 0.786 IP: 14.0
Yesterday the Drive had fallen to third place.  But today they’re back in first!  Go Kaline!
How did they turn things around so quickly and successfully? You could point to their very good day hitting, led by Kyle Lewis’ 2 for 5 with a homer, a double, and two walks (and a spectacular over-the-fence, Griffey-reminiscent, home-run-stealing catch).  Or you might point to the pitching, wherein Dinelson Lamet and Kwang Hyun Kim each pitched 7 innings, striking out a total of 17, and only allowing three hits each and Lamet’s one earned run.  

But those are just the outward results. What caused them? 
May I point out that I am doing today’s update?  And the last time I did an update — last Thursday — was the day the Drive suddenly restored their one-game lead over the Dragons, after seeing it slip to 0.3 the day before.  Today the Drive erased a 0.6 game deficit and took a 0.3 game lead — an even bigger swing in their favor.  
I am not saying I have magical powers over a fantasy league. I am just saying we should pay attention to the obscure details behind the scenes!  Like Tom did when he drafted Kim, someone to whom I had paid no attention.  And one of those details MIGHT be that my updates are like a magic charm to the Drive’s fate.
Haviland: W 1, L 1; 9 – 9.
AVG: 0.243 OBP: 0.317 SLG: 0.432 OPS: 0.750 PA: 41
ERA: 4.94 WHIP: 1.159 IP: 16.4

 The Dragons won’t be the only ones uneasy about my approach to today’s results.  When a tree falls harmlessly into my backyard, no one else is hurt.  It’s not a zero-sum event.  But when a son shows his father a clever writing trick just in time for his interview essay, someone else risks not getting hired just because they don’t have three sons around to help them out.  And if the Drive are charmed by my updates, the Dragons are less so.
It’s not fair!
How are the Dragons supposed to compete if a mystical link to my updates keeps boosting the Drive?  Well, there’s this:  Jesus Luzardo could quit coughing up 4 earned runs in 4.7 innings, and Vince Velasquez could stop doing the same damage in only 3.7 innings.  
Flint Hill: DNP, 3 – 1.
AVG: 0.125 OBP: 0.250 SLG: 0.125 OPS: 0.375 PA: 20
ERA: 1.50 WHIP: 1.500 IP: 6.0
The Tornados apparently sensed something was up yesterday. They battened down the hatches, sending only a skeleton crew of four hitters into action.  With so few plate appearances, their 0.375 team OPS could only do limited damage to their standings. Also, matching that up with a stellar outing from Jose Berrios (6 ip, 1 er) kept the Tornados right in the thick of the race.

How do we account for this Tornado prescience? It’s eerie.               
Peshastin: W, 14 – 6.
AVG: 0.385 OBP: 0.500 SLG: 0.769 OPS: 1.269 PA: 32
ERA: 0.00 WHIP: 1.000 IP: 2.0
The Pears have been sneaking up on the leaders for a while now.  Last Thursday they were 4.7 games back.  Today they’re 2.7 out, having snuck 0.2 games closer yesterday.   All six Pear batters got hits, with Ryan Mountcastle getting 3, including one of the Pears’ 6 homers.  Only two Pears pitched, each for an inning, and each innocent of an earned run.  
The Pears thought this would be their year.  Then, I suspect, they didn’t think so. But could it be?  Gaining 2 games in 5 days is a pace that puts them into first well before the end of the season. 
DC: L, 4 – 4. 
AVG: 0.308 OBP: 0.308 SLG: 0.462 OPS: 0.769 PA: 13
ERA: 3.38 WHIP: 1.750 IP: 8.0
Yesterday the Balk were in sixth place, poised in the no-man’s-land between upper and lower divisions in our 11-team league.  They scored 4 runs, they gave up 4 runs, striving to achieve perfect balance.  But they slid 0.3 games further from first… and somehow advanced into 5th place.  Definitely first division!   

So there’s evidence of special grace in the Balk’s backing into the first division.  But even more so in Tim Anderson’s spectacular year, enhanced by his 3 for 5 with a double yesterday. 
Cottage: DNP, (-1) – 0.
AVG: 0.154 OBP: 0.313 SLG: 0.231 OPS: 0.543 PA: 16
Without pitching, this crummy batting line doomed the Cheese to a slide in the standings — or at least so one would think. Instead they moved up from 7th into 6th, that exquisite balance point in an eleven-team league.  They don’t lead the Cascades by much — just 0.001 in percentage points, and less than 0.1 in games behind.   
What explains this grace?  Well, maybe it is just that — grace.  Or maybe it’s Yoan Moncada’s three brilliant walks in 4 plate appearances.  Without that Moncada eye, the Cheese would still be stuck in the thoroughly forgettable 7th place. 
Bellingham: L, 2 – 6. 
AVG: 0.211 OBP: 0.268 SLG: 0.237 OPS: 0.505 PA: 41
ERA: 0.00 WHIP: 2.353 IP: 1.7
Is Bellingham management even paying attention?  No trees have fallen precisely into their back yard, no game-saving advice from a teenage son, no benefitting from a spell tied to a particular update author… and the Cascades have cascaded from the heat of fourth place in a great pennant race to the quiet obscurity of 7th place.  

I am not going to be like Jamie and keep harping on the effects of getting married — admittedly, possibly the best event of the entire season for anyone in the league — but I will say this:  perhaps the Keeper of the Grace figures others need it more right now. When the Cascade Head needs a little extra grace someday, his EFL team will be one of the vehicles by which it might be delivered.
Canberra:  L, 4 – 12.  
AVG: 0.000 OBP: 0.000 SLG: 0.000 OPS: 0.000 PA: 4
ERA: 13.24 WHIP: 2.941 IP: 3.4
Austin Nola was Canberra’s only batter yesterday.  He went 0 for 4.  Touki Toussaint was the ‘Roos only starting pitcher yesterday.  He faced 18 batters, who batted .467 against him with an OBP of .556 and a slugging percentage of at least .867.    Where’s the charm in that?  

I don’t know.  At least these were low-volume outings. Most of that 4 -12 score is probably due to replacements.  If the ‘Roos can get those replacements replaced, they can have a nice rebound.  Probably not a lot of consolation there. 
Old Detroit: DNP, (-5) – (-4). 
AVG: 0.158 OBP: 0.238 SLG: 0.237 OPS: 0.475 PA: 42
ERA: 2.70 WHIP: 1.000 IP: 10.0
The W’s sent the most men to the plate of any EFL team yesterday — 11. They amassed the most plate appearances — 42, one more than the Cascades and Dragons. All that hitting was crummy, except Eloy Jimenez (2 for 3 with a walk) and Josh Bell (3 for 6 with a homer and a walk — but allocated only 50%).  Mitch Keller came back from the IL to resume where he left off: surrendering 3 earned runs in 3 innings.   
So how did the W’s gain 0.6 games on the Kangaroos?  Two things:  the ‘Roos misfortune (see above), and Mike Minor’s from-outta-nowhere 7 shutout innings against the Mariners.  My apologies, M’s fans. I had no idea he’d do that. 
Pittsburgh:  L, 2- 7.  
AVG: 0.130 OBP: 0.200 SLG: 0.304 OPS: 0.504 PA: 25
ERA: 7.83 WHIP: 1.304 IP: 2.3
No mysterious charms here, that’s for sure.  Mike Moustakas’ homer was the highlight of the day in Pittsburgh — and that still left Moustakas with a 1 for 7 day. 

Portland: L, 2 – 9.
AVG: 0.158 OBP: 0.238 SLG: 0.211 OPS: 0.449 PA: 21
ERA: 9.00 WHIP: 1.000 IP: 1.0
The Rosebuds are now the furthest from first place any EFL team has been this year, leaving the Wolverines’ low-water mark of 11.5 games well behind.   Bryse Wilson’s one inning, one earned-run outing pretty much typifies the Rosebuds’ day.  Is it all the smoke in the Portland air?  Is it bad luck slopped their way to balance cosmic scales for those who lived a charmed life yesterday?  Maybe Portland management asked for a tree to make a precision landing in their yard, too, but had to settle for another big loss in the EFL. 

Combined MLB + EFL Standings for 2020
AL East
Tampa Bay Rays 30 17 .638
Toronto Blue Jays 26 20 .565 3.5
New York Yankees 26 21 .553 4
Flint Hill Tornadoes 26 21 .543 4.5
Baltimore Orioles 21 26 .447 9
Old Detroit Wolverines 19 28 .401 11.2
Boston Red Sox 17 31 .354 13.5
NL East
Atlanta Braves 28 20 .583
Miami Marlins 24 21 .533 2.5
Philadelphia Phillies 23 23 .500 4
D.C. Balk 22 26 .460 5.9
New York Mets 21 26 .447 6.5
Canberra Kangaroos 20 28 .413 8.2
Washington Nationals 17 28 .378 9.5
AL Central
Chicago White Sox 31 16 .660
Minnesota Twins 30 19 .612 2
Cleveland Indians 26 21 .553 5
Bellingham Cascades 21 26 .454 9.7
Detroit Tigers 20 26 .435 10.5
Kansas City Royals 20 28 .417 11.5
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 17 30 .352 14.4
NL Central
Chicago Cubs 28 20 .583
St. Louis Cardinals 21 21 .500 4
Cincinnati Reds 23 26 .469 5.5
Milwaukee Brewers 21 25 .457 6
Cottage Cheese 22 26 .455 6.1
Pittsburgh Pirates 14 32 .304 13
AL West
Oakland A’s 30 18 .625
Kaline Drive 27 21 .553 3.4
Haviland Dragons 26 22 .548 3.7
Houston Astros 23 24 .489 6.5
Seattle Mariners 22 26 .458 8
Los Angeles Angels 20 28 .417 10
Texas Rangers 17 30 .362 12.5
NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers 33 15 .688
San Diego Padres 32 17 .653 1.5
Peshastin Pears 24 24 .498 9.1
San Francisco Giants 23 24 .489 9.5
Colorado Rockies 21 25 .457 11
Arizona Diamondbacks 17 31 .354 16
Portland Rosebuds 14 34 .295 18.8




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