Friday, February 7, 2014
ALL-TIME ASTRAL TEAMS (aka THE ZODIAC LEAGUE)/3: AQUARIUS
Which explains our scarcity of late...but now, despite popular demand, we return to the ecliptic (death threats be damned) to uncover the most mercurial of all astrological signs, the region of aerie-fairy and (as we'll see) a shocking paucity of Hall of Famers. It's...Aquarius!!
The random luck of the Zodiac has brought only eight Cooperstown enshrinees to the region of time where "la la land" was first invented, with an ironically lopsided bounty of second basemen (four Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Roberto Alomar and Joe Gordon).
The Aquarians will always be "playing two" with Ernie Banks as the shortstop for their "A" team, and they've got a terrific top-squad outfield with Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Billy Hamilton.
However, it figures that the Aquarians would be shaky and flaky in the nuts and bolts department--namely, pitchers and catchers. A whole lotta flighty journeyman are on hand to do the chucking and kneeling, and they will all too probably drag this squad into the muck of the second division.
As you can see, there's just not that much there--just one Hall of Famer, Herb Pennock (someone whose credentials have been sniffed suspiciously by the numberology brigade) and several folks with fine peak years (Allie Reynolds, John Tudor, Tony Mullane, Wes Ferrell). The "A" team will have a reasonably solid rotation and the bullpen will be OK, but this is far from world-beating talent.
And the "B" team is going to get drowned in their own waterborne liquid mediocrity (relative to the talent around the rest of the Zodiac, that is).
Here's the batting order for the "A" squad:
Hamilton cf; J. Robinson, 3b; Ruth, lf; Aaron, rf; Banks, ss; Alomar, 2b; White, 1b; Burgess, c
Moving Robinson to third helps a good bit, but you may have noticed that the Aquarians are relatively weak at first base. Bill White was a fine player, but he's no "A" team starter.
Here's the batting order for the "B" squad:
Gordon, 2b; Valentin, ss; Lynn, cf; Guerrero, rf; Hafey, lf; Mayberry 1b; Bando, 3b; Ruiz, c
This would be a fine lineup for any given major league season--just about any 2014 franchise would love to have that crew playing for them. In the Zodiac League, though, it's a good bit spottier.
Starting rotations, A and B:
A: Pennock (have to go with the Hall of Famer here, sorry); Reynolds; Tudor; Mullane; Ferrell; Ray Collins (swing lefty)
B: Overall; Hooton; Pascual; Sallee; Doak; Benz
The phrase you are looking for is "homina homina" (and if you're not, you should be). Again, some fine players in a regular season, but in this elevated league they are going to missing enough lift to get off the ground floor.
Both bullpens will be serviceable (Bolin, Urbina, Dibble, Smith and Williamson for the "A" team; O'Dell, O'Flaherty, Wickman, Murray and Hughes for the "B" team), but there are no miracles in water-bearing to be found here.
What will be interesting to see when the games are actually played is what the aggregate record of the two teams associated with each astrological sign will be. It's our guess that the Aquarians will be at or near the bottom of those aggregate standings.
And now, it's time to blast off back into the ecliptic--and not a moment too soon, eh??