Thursday, September 11, 2014


If bananas could speak, what would they say??
For reasons known only to the Internet gremlins, the standard source we've been using to display astrological symbols has gone AWOL. Woe to us for not having bookmarked...the whole world must now, apparently, be bookmarked lest we find ourselves lost in Willie Keeler's region of the ozone layer.

So what we have instead is the best of a bad, bad bunch--and we're not talkin' about any talking bananas, either. It must be that the sign of the Virgin (aka Virgo) brings out the plouffiest (don't sue me, Trevor...but while we're at it, why the heck don't you have a more manly name, my man...something like Gracchus--the world is a much poorer place for not having a ballplayer named Gracchus...) in the ephemerally eternal world of the ephemerus. (Try saying that three times after having a spiked latte, friends--who knows, maybe those bananas over there really do have the power of speech...)

Anyway. There can be no doubt that there are no virgins among these Virgos, but we have to tell you that the A-team looks damned good. This klatch of players has way too many Hall of Fame second basemen for its own good, but a little sleight-of-hand can help there, and you aren't exactly going to complain about an outfield of Ted Williams-Duke Snider-Frank Robinson from left to right across your dial, now, are you? Only a dyed-in-the-word, dead-bolted perfectionist would even think to quibble.

Let's get those master lists out of the way. First, the position players...

Just a whole lotta interesting names here, a stack of top-flight Hall of Famers and a bunch of folk who are actually more noteworthy. Eddie Waitkus, a guy who had every right to be gun shy; Jeff Leonard and Albert Belle, surly soul mates who still somehow wake up one fine misty morning and say to each other "Hey, let's put on a show!!"; Steve Brodie, still not sure if he's the guy that jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge or the poor sap who was gunned down by Jane Greer; David and Buddy Bell, son and father; and two guys (though we're getting ahead of ourselves, list-wise...) who simply have to room together: Yank Robinson and Tug McGraw.

Yeah, we'd better introduce the pitchers now:

Only the Virgo pitching squad could wind up with two guys named Hooks.

It's a squad dripping with talent--they even have a full complement of quality left-handed relievers, who are actually quite scarce (despite the proliferation of LOOGYs over the past thirty years).

So, your starting lineup/batting order for the Virgo "A" team looks like this:

Joe Morgan, 2b; Jim Thome, 1b; Ted Williams, lf; Frank Robinson, rf; Duke Snider, cf; Mike Piazza, c; Ryne Sandberg, 3b; Cal Ripken, ss.

You may have forgotten that Sandberg played third base early in his career; we're going to go with him on the theory that he's going to give you just a little more than the other modern third baseman (Tim Wallach, Buddy Bell). YMMV.

The starting rotation (remember, we go with six of 'em here--just because we can...) relies on the old-school right-left punch of HOFers Kid Nichols and Eddie Plank. They're followed by Randy Johnson, Gaylord Perry, Bob Lemon, and--what the hey--Ron Guidry. That's a rotation that is eminently capable of some serious rotating.

In the pen: Rollie Fingers, the aforementioned Mr. McGraw, Frank Linzy, Sandy Consuegra, extra closer Jason Isringhausen, and extra lefty Ramon Hernandez.

If we are on the opposing team, we are going to call in sick no matter the consquences.

Nap Lajoie: arguably the greatest player to wind up on a 
"Zodiac League" B-team...
Now, the "B" team, which is anchored by a man with every right to question how he got demoted.

That would be Nap Lajoie.

After all, they never named a team after any of those guys on the "A" team, now, did they? But Nap will feel akin with these "B" boys if for no other reason that he'll get to bat third--something that would never have happened if he'd been on the "A" squad. The "B" squad batting order:

Tim Raines, lf; Bill Joyce, 3b; Nap Lajoie, 2b; Orlando Cepeda, 1b; Albert Belle, rf; Bernie Williams, cf; George Davis, ss; Mickey Tettleton, c.

While it hasn't got the panache of the "Swaggering Virgins" up on the "A" squad, this is a fun lineup, particularly with Joyce, the nineteenth-century on-base machine, getting the nod to play third and bat second. They'll be a "B" league terror.

The "B" team pitching is also going to stack up well. The starting rotation picks up on the depth in the Virgo master list: Al Spalding, Roy Oswalt, Curt Davis and Urban Shocker from the right side; Cliff Lee and David Price from the left.

"No, no, baby...I'm Mingo--he's Fante..."
And thanks to the glut of lefty reliever talent, the "B" team gets an "A"-level closer in John Franco, and a jaunty fivesome to back him up in Aurelio (SeƱor Smoke) Lopez, Randy Myers, Jeff Brantley, Pat Neshek, and my man Jerry Blevins. (We really do need a law firm named Neshek and Blevins--it's not quite the twenty-first century analogue for Mingo and Fante, but then again it's probably best that we not focus on all possible meanings of the term "Big Combo." Let's just note that there won't be any shortage of salami out in the "B" squad bullpen...)

Where, you ask, is Robin Yount in all this? He's the "A" team's extra regular. Figure that he will get time in CF against lefties, and he'll permit a bit of round-robin (no pun intended!) with Ripken and Sandberg. Cal will play some third while Robin plays short and Ryno gets a rest.

If it weren't for the Scorpio starting rotation (and, no, you haven't seen it yet...), we'd figure this Virgo A-squad to be a lock. As it stands, they will be scary good.