Friday, June 27, 2014

Hunter History Lesson: Season 21

As Hunter continues to recruit new owners for Season 31, I started thinking about the trials that we went through ten seasons ago. Do you remember the rollover of Season 21? Well, it was starting to fade from my memory a little bit so I decided to do some research to remind myself and maybe give a little history lesson to those who may have missed it.

For the first 20 seasons, Hunter was a solid, private world that normally ran pretty smoothly under Leppykhan’s commissionership. We averaged about 4 vacancies every year and the most we ever had was 7 and that was back in seasons 1 and 2. But then something happened. Several things happened, actually. It was the HBD equivalent to the perfect storm and Hunter almost sunk.

The trouble started when many Hunter owners were annoyed by a chat hog who wouldn’t drop his issues with how HBD’s ratings worked and how one team hit so many homers against his. The owner was voted out in season 20, but not before a few frustrated owners checked out. Also, WIS had just announced that they really hadn’t worked on the Hardball Dynasty program for quite a while and that they might not get back to it anytime soon (and we’re still waiting). This really rubbed owners the wrong way and chased a bunch of them away, not only in Hunter. On top of that, this was a time in our country’s history where jobs weren’t terribly secure and many weren’t willing or able to throw money at a silly game. Add in a couple nervous nellies, who bailed because it looked like a long wait, and Hunter was up to 19 vacancies. Yes, we had more available teams than committed owners at one point.

Hunter became a bit of a whipping boy in the HBD forums. We were accused of having a poor group of owners who didn’t care about their league and of having too many “super teams” so nobody would want to join. These things were not true but people started believing them. Heck, we started believing them.

“Lots of teams open, wrong timing. I just left Hunter, because I find it silly to waste money while waiting for something to happen.”—lets_try

“I'm only holding on because it's my original HBD team (from the day HBD opened). I have 2 other teams to keep me busy. At some point soon, though, I'm giving up and bailing.”—pfontaine

“...this whole damn thing has crushed my spirit to play anymore. So, byebye HBD.”—leppykhan

Things were so bad that a few trolls in the forum began fantasizing about a merge between Hunter and another troubled league, American Baseball Union. WIS was willing to merge leagues so owners could keep their players but all histories and stats would be lost. This forum post actually got the two leagues talking to each other about merging and things got so bleak at one point that we actually agreed to merge. Since Leppy had pretty much checked out, I decided to step-in and look at both leagues and see what teams would stay in what cities and what the new divisions would look like. In doing so, I realized that ABU was filled with mostly owners with 0 years of experience. Obviously, this made us very suspicious and we began to believe that ABU filled themselves with aliases so that they did not look so empty. That was never proven but, even if they weren’t aliases, we didn’t want to merge with a bunch of newbs who might quit and put us in the same boat the next season—but without our storied history.

This is when Hunter bonded together. The remaining owners (who combined for over 250 seasons of experience at the time) decided to keep our teams and the league’s history until WIS pulled it from our cold, dead mitts. We would wait. Perhaps until we were old and senile. But we would wait until the sucker filled.

On October 23, 2011, almost 2 months after Hunter’s season 20 ended, Jahu43 agreed to become the new commissioner of our world, which was now being ridiculed by the bystanders for refusing to merge with ABU. But Jahu was relentless in his recruiting. To make the world more attractive, he devised a plan where all of the veteran Hunter owners would only protect 35 players, instead of 40, to expand the prospects for the Rule 5 draft giving some of the bad teams a chance to catch up quicker.

On October 27, 2011, Hunter was full. In an unprecedented recruiting push, Jahu got 16 owners to join a struggling world in just four days. And he didn’t fill it with a bunch of newbies or aliases which, of course, we were being accused of. To fill the 16 openings, we got 3 previous owners to reup, we accepted two newbies who were asked to work with a mentor and the remaining 11 new owners were veterans who, at that point, had a combined 388 seasons of HBD experience. Three of those recruits are still with us (bigtex1, bigalric, jbburner).

The 35-man rule went off without a hitch as all of the returning teams (plus a few others) followed the rule. This was one of the main reasons we attracted so many users so quickly. Not only did it help the rebuilding teams, it showed we had a creative commish and that we were all in this for the long haul.

So, while we are all impatiently waiting for a few spots to fill, just remember than Hunter has been through much worse and that the 7 remaining founders and long-time owners (over half of the league has been with us for 10 or more seasons) will keep it sailing smoothly.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hunter S27 - End of Season

1. San Fransico

I might as well write this in permanent marker another year another top spot

2. New Orleans

Defending champ gets his due

3. St. Louis

AL number 2 and won the toughest division in Hunter

4. New Britain

Two seasons removed from a WS appearance, a young team continuing to improve

5. Louisville

Rest cost the Sluggers the 3rd best AL record

6. Salt Lake City

The last of the 3 NL power brokers

7. Atlanta

Perennially underrated but always competitive

8. Pittsburgh

Underachieved during the regular season 

9. Charlotte

Power Rankings first.....non-playoff team in the top 10. 5th best AL record.....

10. Jacksonville

Off season acquisitions paid off

Honorable Mention

LA, KC, Boise, Cleveland

Monday, June 24, 2013

S27- Power Ranks (6-10)

1. 6..    Tacoma
The Narrows sit at 18-21 at the time of this writing so many might be surprised to see this team so high. Like a point out every year if people want to look at records there is this magical tool called………the standings. Tacoma is a team that looked like it was one piece away and picking up J. Paranoto pushes this team into title contention

27..    Norfolk
Norfolk boosts the best record in all of Hunter. Last season was a disappointing season for Norfolk after winning the divison and 89 games the previous season. Jbburner’s frustration was apparent as he made a major splash in the offseason signing one of the top FA targerts Ace Bryan Parrish

38.. Jacksonville
Since joining the league Knine had never allowed Jacksonvill to drop below 79wins until  S26. It became apparent in FA that Knine did not intend to suffer through another 70 win season. The Velioraptors signed SP A. Norris, 2b E. Mendoza, LF M. Cobb, RP G. Taylor & RP H. Piedra. All resulted in compensatory picks and that doesn’t even include the biggest FA fish A. Jackson the top SP available in FA. 

9..9.  Pittsburgh
Last year’s NL rep is off to a strong start yet again. Dizz has built a strong core of young players who took a big step forward last year making a run to the NLCS before falling to eventual champion: New Orleans. 

5. 10.      Louisville
Claim favoritism……..but the Sluggers look to rebound off their disappointing 87W season and their first playoff miss in franchise history. I stated going into last season I had forsaken season 26 for championship runs in S23-S25, two titles later I’d make the trade again although……I loved the streak. With a lot of veterans coming off the cap for the current season and minor league reinforcements ready the Sluggers are poised to start another streak.

Honorable Mentions:
Cleveland, Kansas City (the toughest omission), Charlotte, Los Angeles & Philly.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Power Ranks (1-5): S27

1.     1.   New Orleans
3 seasons ago BigTex put me on notice that the Jazz were going to make some noise. It turns out the noise was Championship music. Two seasons ago in a Power Ranks post I stated the thing holding New Orleans back was a lack of MVP bat and Bigtex quickly remedied that with the acquisition of Branch Garnder. This acquisition lead to a title which would point to me being correct ,however the defending NL MVP is E. Patterson who was on the roster that the time I made my comment…..whoops

2.      2.  San Francisco
BJB correctly pointed out that over the last 5 seasons he has likely had either the best or 2nd best team on paper every season and hasn’t won a title since S21. The scary part is during the game 22 annual prospect pissing content this perennial title contender took silver. The end of the Night Demon run is no where in sight. The one thing other teams can take solace in is the “Playoff Crap Shoot Factor”, all a team can hope for is to put itself in position to potentially win a title. 

3.       3. St. Louis
If there was a candidate for the next “New Orleans Jazz” it would be the Browns. This team has been built slowly and then augmented with a few key trades however has yet to see the talent convert to post season success.  The Browns are likely to secure one of the two AL byes which shortens the road to the championship. I have a feeling that if SF is bounced from the post-season this year it will by this roster

4.       4. Salt Lake City
There are a few owners in the world that can be counted on to create perennial contenders and Shmish is definitely among those ranks the S24 champs are off to yet another good start and have a roster built for title contention. Estaban Gomez entering his 2nd complete ML season anchors the batting order while providing gold glove defense in CF. A huge bat at a premium position

5.       5.New Britain
For the first time in as long as I can remember there are 3 NL teams in the top 5 of the power ranks.  I’ve often joked that the NL is Quadruple A and the jokes for years were well founded whenever a huge player hit the FA or trade market it was always an AL team that stepped up to secure the player as the AL was a nuclear arms race however in recent seasons that trend has started to shift and it shows in roster talent. 

      I’m a full paragraph in and haven’t mentioned the Yorkies. DJ moved to the NL and turned around a disappointing franchise in a very short period of time. Making the WS in S25, was likely a year or two ahead of schedule but they came within a win of DJ’s 4th championship. This S25 young roster has matured to become what will likely be a championship contender for years to come.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Season 26 WAR Leaders

National League:

1. Branch Gardner RF, New Orleans - 6.9 WAR. Gardner is a solid RF who carries a lethal bat.  He punished pitchers to the tune of .343/.437/.591. His split time with two teams almost fooled me into thinking he was further down on this list.  Glad I noticed.

2. Kennie Henderson 3B, Philadelphia - 5.9 WAR. Kennie is a dominant third sacker, a full 35%+ better than the next best 3B. He adds more than a full win on defense. He adds a .272/.335/.530 slash line with 26 SB to boot.

3.  Victor Guzman 3B, Baltimore - 5.8 WAR. What is it with 3B in S26?  It's quite the bumper crop.  Victor is basically neutral on defense, he doesn't hurt but he isn't better than average either.  What he does bring is a .285/.341/.618 slash line.  Lots and lots of power.

4. Asdrubal Tarasco 1B, Philadelphia, - 5.6 WAR.  Tarasco is an above average defender at 1B who also happens to hit a little, as his .308/.369/.585 line demonstrates.

5. Luis Rijo C, Philadelphia - 5.4 WAR.  Rijo is a solid backstop who provides value behind the plate as well as at the plate.  He hit .299/.399/.529 in S26.

6. Ken Shoppach CF, San Jose - 5.3 WAR. Shoppach creates value on defense (16 + plays), with his legs (75 SB) and with a decent stick (.283/.362/.417).  He's a true all-around player.

7. Steve Murphy C, San Jose - 5.3 WAR. It's interesting how Murphy can create so much value in only 96 games.  That just goes to show how good catching is hard to find.  He delivered solid results behind the plate in terms of throwing at runners and CERA.  He hit .281/.356/.574.  Great power for a good defensive C.

8.Ren Pong 2B, Salt Lake City - 5.0 WAR. Pong doesn't really add much on defense as he is slightly below average. His bat makes up for it, with a .328/.405/.491 line.

9.  Eddie Patterson 1B, New Orleans - 4.9 WAR. Yes more smooth Jazz, as another of New Orleans S26 group makes the list. Eddie rocked to the tune of .314/.375/.612 and threw in above average defense to boot.

10.  Orlando Cruz LF, New Orleans - 4.9 WAR. Let's make it a Jazz trio with Cruz rounding out the list. Cruz hit .299/.382/.493 with 26 SB and good D in LF.