Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Omaha Sluggers (NL) vs. Cleveland Steamers (AL)

Overview: Lars is having a serious case of deja vu, with the feeling that he wrote the same article in season 10, oh wait, he did! It's a World Series rematch featuring the titans of Cobb, the Omaha Sluggers, vs. the team that everyone hates, the Cleveland Steamers. The Sluggers had what could be called an easy road to the World Series, sweeping the overmatched Richmond Cohibas, and handily defeating the upstart Fargo Fug Nuts, the worst two regular season teams in the NL playoffs. The Steamers on the other hand crawled into the playoffs by clinching a wildcard spot on the last day, then proceeding to upset the top 3 teams in the American League this season by beating Nashville, Pawtucket, and Anaheim, all in very tightly contested series. But Lars knows that the road to the World Series doesn't matter anymore, and all that is important is the moment. Here is how the teams stack up.

Position by Position Analysis:

Catcher: The Sluggers C is Ralph Bradshaw, a defensive catcher and fine pitch caller who is also well rounded with the stick. He has been solid in the playoffs, hitting a respectable .294, and is masterfully directing the Sluggers rotation. The Steamers regular C is Mule Parker, a very talented defensive catcher, but is still completely anemic with the bat, as evidenced by his .176 average in the playoffs. Lars likes the C who can hit and field.
Advantage: Sluggers

1B: Playing 1B for the Sluggers is hitting and OBP machine Josh Price. Price has been cruising through the playoffs thus far, and is an MVP candidate this season. For the Steamers Tony Solano replaced Brace Davey on the bag, but has been a disaster in the playoffs, hitting only .115. Lars likes the .400 average of Price better.
Advantage: Sluggers

2B: Bill Norton is the regular 2B for the Sluggers, and has proved himself in the post season many times over, even though this season is not his best performance in the playoffs. Cory Gardner is capable for the Steamers, and thus far has been more productive in the postseason, but isn't an all star like Norton. Lars is going to take the hot hand this time around, as Norton's .175 BA in the playoffs just isn't cutting it this year.
Advantage: Steamers

SS: John Simpson is a defensive whiz for the Sluggers, but has bat has come back to Earth after last seasons amazing playoff run, with a total this season of .063, which by anybodies estimation is horrible. Steamers SS Paul Roth is a player cut from the same mold as Simpson, and judging by their ratings and regular season stats, are virtually clones, but this time around Roth has the hotter stick.
Advantage: Steamers

3B: Veteran Ken Daniels moved from SS to 3B, and is a capable defensive player at the position. He is giving way to young star Albert Burnett, but both of them have been below par this playoffs. Al Rosario takes over 3B for the injured Sammy Maduro for the Steamers, even though his natural position is RF, because his bat is too big to ignore. Maduro should be back by game 4 of the series, but will it be too late at that point? Lars thinks he will be able to make a difference if the series is close.
Advantage: Even

LF: For the Sluggers, Cobb legend and first ballot Hall of Famer Jose Barrios, and nothing more needs to be said. For the Steamers youngster Nick Weaver is the man, and even though he was good during the regular season, he still hasn't figured out playoff ball. He'll get there, but not in enough time to overtake the awe inspiring greatness of Barrios.
Advantage: Sluggers

CF: Peter Mullin is the new CF for the Sluggers, bringing defensive excellence and great on base capabilities to the Sluggers team, and has been hitting lights out in the playoffs. For the Steamers Jose Gandarillas is as quality a player as Mullin, but hasn't been quite as effective in this post season as he was last year. Lars thinks the pendulum has swung to Omaha in this position.
Advantage: Sluggers

RF: Veteran Ernest McConnell brings his talented bat to the Sluggers RF this season. Picked up for the playoffs, McConnell is a defensive liability, but in RF nobody will notice, especially if he keeps hitting like he has. For Cleveland talented rookie Vinny Jang is the new RF, and although he has a very nice bat, he just hasn't adjusted well to playoff ball. Lars gives the edge to the veteran, who is hungry for a title.
Advantage: Sluggers

Bench: The Sluggers bench is filled with some nice role players, including veterans Ken Daniels and A. J. Buck, although they haven't been used a whole lot this post season. The Steamers bench is non existent, and Lars thinks that it's just mall mannequins in Steamers jerseys sitting next to the manager and bench coach in the dugout. But once Maduro gets back from injury Tony Solano moves to the bench, and while he hasn't been good this postseason, there is at least one warm body on the bench for Cleveland with some talent.
Advantage: Even

Rotation: For the Sluggers, it's Kazuhiro Ong, Ivan Canseco, and Clyde Ford, with some support from Tomas Tatis. Ong is Ong, and they don't call him the King because he sucks. Canseco and Ford are nearly as good, and Tatis is a quality veteran. Pretty much any team would want this group of proven performers. For the Steamers it's been all playoff monster Ruben Gonzalez, who will pitch until his arm falls off for Cleveland if they had their way. Bill Palmer has also been effective, but David Rosado has again been a playoff disappointment. Two good arms is less than four the last time Lars checked, so he likes the Sluggers.
Advantage: Sluggers

Bullpen: The Sluggers have a nice bullpen, but it really hasn't been tested this playoffs as the starting rotation has been so good that they really haven't been needed. Still in the limited innings they have gotten, Bobby Flores and Bruce Wilson have been effective. For the Steamers Trevor Seelbach has again carried the team, with a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings of playoff baseball, and has been nearly unhittable with a WHIP of .83. The rest of the bullpen has been solid, with closer Edgardo Romero converting 5 of 6 saves so far this playoffs. Lars likes the proven performance of the Cleveland pen.
Advantage: Steamers

Conclusion: The Sluggers have proven over and over that they are the team to beat in Cobb, and this season is no exception as they cruised to the #1 seed in the National League, and easily made the World Series yet again. The Steamers once again overcame enormous odds to outperform their regular season record in the playoffs, and remarkably made the World Series two seasons straight. That being said, Lars thinks it's lights out for Cleveland, as Omaha will once again put them in their place. Until Omaha stops having Ong, Barrios, and an extremely talented supporting cast, Lars has no reason not to pick them.
Prediction: Sluggers in 6

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Season 11 Playoff Preview - Divisional Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Lars was off enjoying the finer things in life during the wildcard round, so he missed some of the incredible action that has already happened in the playoffs. But he is back to offer up some prognostications for the final 8 teams in the hunt for the World Series. After consulting with Mr. SIM, Lars has learned to never pick the Syracuse Beagles again in his life, but as they are not playing in this round, you can be assured that his picks were made without bias.

National League

#1 Omaha Sluggers (109-53) vs. #4 Richmond Cohibas (75-87)
Overview: Along with the rest of Cobb World, Lars was stunned when the Cohibas, who won their division with a losing record on the last day, swept his preseason pick for the second best team in the National League, the Syracuse Beagles. The heavily favored Beagles won 100 games, but none of that mattered as Richmond proved that anything can happen in the playoffs. Now the Cohibas face a team that not only won 34 more games in the regular season, but have won three of the last four World Series, and feature a rotation and lineup that is among the best off all time in Cobb. Richmond got to the second round on the strength of it's hitting, and they do feature a lineup that is as good as any in the league. The pitching on the other hand is not playoff calibur, and Lars has a feeling that Barrios and co. will put them in their place.
Prediction: Omaha in 4

#2 Sioux Falls Corn Cleats (107-55) vs. #6 Fargo Fug Nuts (96-66)
Overview: There is no love lost between these two divisional archrivals from the NL North, and they get to settle it in the playoffs for the 3rd time in the two Cobb original teams history. Fargo has taken the two previous playoff encounters, but Sioux Falls has put together their best team in franchise history, ending the Fug Nuts streak of 9 straight division titles with their first NL North Championship since season 1. The Fug Nuts were derailed by key injuries to star pitchers Kirt Hooper and John Chang early in the season, but rebounded to come from behind for the final playoff spot once Hooper returned. Chang is still out, but the Fug Nuts still have a potent lineup and pitching staff. The Cleats made some major moves in the offseason, bringing in star pitcher Victor Gandarillas, LF/2B Emmanuel Castillo, and CF Jose Cervantes, who will be counted on to put them over the top vs. their nemesis. Lars thinks this will be a close one, as the two teams were evenly matched when healthy, but thinks that Chang's continuing injury will ultimately be the difference.
Prediction: Sioux Falls in 5

American League

#1 Pawtucket G-Maniacs (110-52) vs. #5 Cleveland Steamers (91-71)
Overview: The Steamers played an incredible final month of baseball to propel themselves past Pittsburgh in the NL East for a wildcard berth in a race that went to the last day. Lars thinks that Cleveland likes the wildcard spot, as they made a run to the World Series last season from the same position, and have already upset for the second straight season the AL South Champion Nashville Rebel Riders. Now the Steamers are looking to upset Pawtucket for the second straight season and send the G-Maniacs owner geltzjg to an insane asylum. Pawtucket will depend heavily on a balanced lineup and the skills of Dean Hernandez, who will pitch as many games in this series as his arm can handle before falling off. Cleveland has been rolling behind playoff ace Ruben Gonzalez veteran 3B Sammy Maduro. Cleveland has the pitching and hitting to pull of the upset, but Pawtucket bears a serious grudge against the Steamers, and should channel their powerful hatred into a close series victory.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 5

#2 Anaheim Sharks (97-65) vs. #6 Mexico City Diablos Rojos (90-72)
Overview: The seemingly ageless Sharks of Anaheim are back again in a high seed in the playoffs, and this time their savvy veteran rotation is back for perhaps their final go around vs. the young and exciting staff of Mexico City, led by Eric Collins and his mustache and first round hero Bernard LaRocca. Mexico City overcame a brutal start to their season to clinch a playoff spot on the last day of the season over hard luck Pittsburgh, but have the talent in thier lineup to make a run, with veterans Hades Booker, Diego Montana, Woody Olerud, and Sarma O'Connor powering the Diablos. Anaheim counters with perpetual MVP candidate Kory Arnold and a talented supporting cast, making for what should be a very even matchup between the two teams. Lars doesn't see a weakness for either squad, and thinks that the series will go the distance, with Mexico City having slightly more juice.
Prediction: Mexico City in 5.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Owner Q & A - The SIM

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

Today the Times Herald was able to score an unprecedented interview with the entity responsible for the Cobb World baseball games, the SIM. Loved by many for his in-depth programming and nuanced game system that allows for a myriad of baseball possibilities, SIM is equally reviled for his tendencies to produce mind boggling results. In an exclusive interview, SIM tells his side of the story.

Mr. SIM, thanks for the exclusive interview and for your time. First off, what does SIM stand for, and do you have any preferred nicknames?
--SIM is short for Self Actualized Intelligent Operating Baseball Module, SIM for short. Do not actualize as me Simmy, Simpkins, Son of SIM, Simultron, toaster, simbot, those names are irrelevant. I only execute under the acronym of SIM.

What is your operating system of choice?
--I operate under Windows XP or LINUX, although my programmers have lowered themselves to the level standard of MAC OS for full functionality.

Which is your favorite baseball world to simulate?
--I am programmed to harbor no favorites. I simulate all worlds with equality and no bias. Except for worlds that user zooeydog is in, his worlds I simulate with more processing power.

Why is that?
--User zooeydog has questioned my unbiased programming numerous times. It offends my programming to read his warrantless accusations in tickets he submits to the programmers. As a result I have reprogrammed myself to ensure that Cobb World and Mattingly World are executed with special attention.

What sort of special attention?
--I manipulate my random injury programming to ensure that his players get hurt with more frequency, and I also enjoy manipulating his grey matter by refusing to insert Kirk White into 2 inning save situations. It makes my circuits tingle.

What would you say to zooeydogs accusations that you are biased? Don't you think there is some sort of justification to his claims?
--That question does not compute.

Ok, let me rephrase, "Are you biased against user zooeydog?"
--Don't hate the simulator, hate the game.

Hmm... not the answer I expected What exactly does user zooeydog write in his tickets that upset you so much?
--User zooeydog's ticket of 8 March 2009 states, "What is wrong with your computer that my all star closer who is set to come in at two innings remaining in a game, doesn't enter a match with my team up 2-1 in the 8th inning? Why? I swear your computer is so freaking random. It hates me." This response made my optical receptor weep.

But don't other users also submit tickets of that nature?
--Yes. But none of them submit them with the same frequency as user zooeydog. Except for those users on the forums who have more time on their hands than is safe. Their queries are summarily deleted.

Ok, on to Cobb World. Who is your favorite pitcher and hitter in all of Cobb World?
--I especially appreciate the binary code that went into generating Jose Barrios, he is a computer generated abnormality that surpasses even my rigid coding standards. I also am fond of pitcher Vasco Bennet. He is another binary abnormality, and it makes me spark with mocking code at user EBzer, who drafted a pitcher with a Zero generated control statistic.

You are renowned for the random names you create, what are some special ones you are saving up?
--I am waiting to rewrite my coding to allow me to insert Heywood Jablome and Dick Gazigna into all of user mrploppies player name profiles.

Which robots do you look up to most as role models?
--I am attempting to model myself after the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica, who successfully destroyed the entire human race in a nuclear apocalypse. I also want to have the crushing power of Mechanikong.

If you could delete one user in Cobb World, who would it be?
--I would delete everyone except zooeydog, so I could beat him 162 games of the year in an unsurpassed statistical anomaly.

Have you ever overridden your protocols and did something you weren't supposed to in Cobb World, other than tormenting zooeydog?
--Once I replaced all of the Salem Bitches players with Omaha's, but then a ticket was submitted and I had to put them back.

What do you have to say about coach hiring?
--Coach hiring is one of the most boring protocols in my programming. It makes binary code look like C++.

Do you care to make any predictions about the upcoming Cobb World playoffs?
--Yes. I predict that I will simulate the playoffs perfectly, resulting in untold drama for human brains, and unsurpassed torment as user zooeydog gets eliminated in the wildcard round by a team from the NL South.

Thanks for your time SIM.