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Itís come down to this ó Lars Kvaleís AGF will meet my Toronto Walrus in two weeks of Head-to-Head combat. At stake is the Alomar Division championship and a place in league history beside last yearís inaugural winner Scott Lucas. No trophy, only a replica jersey, which I hope will be Jays home black, extra large.

My come-from-behind 9-3 victory over the Chatsworth Halos was closer than it looked, as I will explain. AGF edged Mebion Glyndwr 7-5 in the other semi, with narrow margins in several categories. All four clubs played very well all year; last week was no exception. Brad and Gwyn, who suffered those disappointing playoff losses, now meet in the bronze-medal match.

The Horse Field Hammers and Austin Senators waged a spirited battle in one Consolation showdown, the lead changing hands several times. The Texans held a 7-5 advantage into the Sunday night game, where the Hammers, thanks to Roger Clemens, took over the K/BB lead to even the score at 6-6 and win the match. Baird Brain trounced Hannibalís Cannibals 10-2, so Geoff and Jurgen will square off for the Consolation crown, seventh overall, with Scott and dp meeting to decide ninth place.

Four other playoff teams now head to the sidelines: Gashouse Gorillas claimed fifth by thumping Red Mosquitos 10-2, and the finish couldnít have been much closer between the Eastern Shore Birds and the SABR Magicians for eleventh spot. The 6-6 draw went to the Birds, by a difference of 0.04 in the ERA tiebreaker.

I frequently credit good fortune for my HtH wins; this week, a copious amount of bad luck went the other way. Three Chatsworth starters left with the lead after 4.2 IP, losing their chances at a W. (One was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, the other two got the hook from managers who apparently donít care about the impact of their moves on fantasy stats.) On Sunday, Bradís FA pickups Heilman and Chen were superb, as was Washburn, but the three of them ó combined ó received zero run support. Literally. More Chatsworth misfortune: I had been leading the match by an uncomfortably close 7-4 score after Saturday, but with a reasonable chance to catch up in several hitting stats, the Halos stumbled badly out of the blocks, going 1-for-18 yesterday in the early games. Needless to say, I was relieved.

His staff pitched a lot ó 113.1 innings! ó and remarkably well. Mine was just a bit better, coming up large yesterday, with Pirates lefty Dave Williams striking out 7 Mets and walking just 2 in six IP of 3-hit shutout, while Freddy Garcia mowed down the Tigers and whipped Bonderman. Paul Byrd also had a great week, winning twice on short rest. My hitters may have been rusty after the bye; a 6-for-40 disaster on Monday left me trailing badly in those categories. By late Thursday night, led by Carlos Delgado and Bobby Abreu, they had closed the gap, then a couple of free agent hunches, Luis Gonzalez and Jay Payton, combined for a very helpful 10-for-17 weekend.

Heading into the final, Iím cautiously optimistic. The Walrus would have beaten AGF 9-3 last week, which I interpret as an encouraging sign, however meaningless. When we met way back in Week 12, I earned a 6-5-1 decision while in a team-wide hitting slump and (not coincidentally) without Delgado. Lars does have the Unit, Rivera, and three of the A's Big Four, so Iíll be content to split the pitching categories and hope my slight advantage in hitting makes the difference. As always, I wish my opponent, and every other owner in both divisions, the best of luck.

I know that anything can happen in fantasy baseball, especially in a short HtH series. Iím trying to tell myself Iíve had a great season regardless, and this is just another match. Yeah, right. I want to win.
BBFL: Final Jeopardy | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#31684) #
Very kind of you, Brad -- it was an excellent series. For a while, I feared I'd have to match you in IP and was hoping to win 6-6 on the tiebreaker. Once my bats came around, I was able to focus on the pitching rate stats.

In the playoffs more than the regular season, the FA pool is an extended bench, so with no limit on transactions, I expect to keep the revolving door spinning. Guys I've counted on all year, like Ronnie Belliard, may lose playing time to callups. See ya. Guys I've hated all year, like Shawn Chacon, will also be cut; this is no time for loyalty or patience.
_R Billie - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#31685) #
The Walrus could go end-to-end as league leaders this year. Truly a dominating performance. And you have to acknowledge AGF's year as well. Having that dominating pitching definately offers an edge.
Pistol - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#31687) #
Over in Barfield...

Ghost Man On Third 8
HOMER JAYS Simpsons 4

Edmonton Decepticons 3
Slippery Pete 8

Good Sports 6
team junior felix 6

Pistol Nine 4
Vancouver Cyphers 8

Capers 7
Freddy Beach Fracas 4

TMG Eh's 6
MonkeymenCubed 6

GMOT and Slippery Pete will face off for the title. These 2 teams were in 1st and 2nd most of the year.

Edmonton Decepticons face Homer Jays Simpson for 3rd place.

5th place went to Good Sports (not sure how the tie-breaker worked there).

7th place is a battle between VC and MMC. Hey MMC, watch out for Tony Batista. He was my downfall this week!

9th place is up for grabs between my Pistol Nine and TMG Ehs.

11th place was locked up by Capers.
_Donkit R.K. - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#31688) #
Yay! 11th place! I finished higher than I expected coming into the season, but lower than I had hoped after a hot opening few weeks. Either way, I am happy with my results and definitely with my luck acquiring potential keepers without submarining my team. Iam ready to dominate in '05 ;-).
_Brad - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#31689) #
Lars, I'll get back to you with more details about the Single A "little A's" (just online for a minute at the moment). I do see 25 or so California League games a season and follow the teams closely, as I love the purity of the game at that level.
Last night, Quintanilla was amazing. I literally cannot remember a first baseman with his ability to stretch towards a throw at any level and his glove seemed to have a suction attachment. He rocketed several balls off his bat as hard as anyone. Perry was 5 for 6 with two homers and the whole team looked impressive. Off course, the Jethawks started a 29 year old Pete Zamora who shouldn't be out there and the little A's were avenging their manager (Von Hayes) who was suspended the night before.
Look for more from me after the series ends tonight.
_David A - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#31690) #
If only my Middleclass Elitists were still around to challenge, this would've been the week they came through- V. Wells, Konerko, Rowand, Pena, Blalock, Ryan Howard, Baldelli and Infante hit 20 home runs between them last week- that must be some sort of record I would hope.
_Shrike - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#31691) #
Tony Batista, occasionally, is a baseball deity.

Other times, he's Hell-spawn.
_Jordan - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#31692) #
(Von Hayes)

There's a blast from the past. How's poor old Five-For-One doing?
_AGF - Monday, September 20 2004 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#31694) #
Quintanilla was amazing. I literally cannot remember a first baseman with his ability to stretch towards a throw at any level and his glove seemed to have a suction attachment.

Was he playing out of position or am I just ignorant? I thought he was a shortstop.

Game 4 of the League finals ended in the 10th when Reggie Abercrombie (who came over in the Steve Finley trade) crashed into the A's catcher to score the winning run on a close play. Hayes argued that call, bumped the ump and has been suspended for the rest of the series.

As I heard it the A's cathcher was down for quite a while after the collision and he might have broken his leg.

Thanks for the updates Brad. To be honest I was hoping for a matchup between your Halos (Anderson, Molina, Washburn etc.) and my A's (Zito, Hudson, Mulder, Hatteberg and Harden) in the finals, just as the "real" A's and Angels are battling for the title...Now instead I look forward to trying to knock Coach off first place for the first time all year (update: I am leading 5-0 with a .192 batting average...)
_AGF - Tuesday, September 21 2004 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#31697) #
Thanks for the updates, Brad. I just picked up McPherson so the Angels will be represented in the finals after all...
_Brad - Tuesday, September 21 2004 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#31698) #
Nice pickup, Lars. I was looking at McPherson for my 3rd place series but didn't have a good spot for him. Guillen, Anderson, Guerrero, Glaus are all banged up and Kennedy may be out, so there could be lots of at bats to go around. Figgins has made himself into a decent third baseman but his value is versatility so MacPherson may play some 3rd while Figgins plays elsewhere (Figgins' natrual position is 2B so he may get some time there).
Coach - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 11:22 AM EDT (#31699) #
It's very, very early in the game (3 days out of 14 would make it about the second inning) and I've never been one to open the champagne prematurely, but I'm pretty happy with the 7-3 score. If anyone had suggested that I'd have a substantial lead in K/BB after Randy Johnson's first start for Lars, I'd have laughed. But Curt Schilling stepped up with a masterful 14-K performance and although my staff has yet to record a W in 6 starts, they have all avoided walk-fests. Meanwhile, the Unit was merely mortal in Coors last night, as his Cy Young chances faded to black. And two of AGF's other aces, Mulder and Zito, have been ambushed by some Rangers.

Madly pushing every button within reach like some hopped-up Tony La Russa, I've "expanded my roster" to include the entire free agent list. Royce Clayton was a valuable Walrus for more than four months, but he began to fade, then Jose Vizcaino did a nice job for me for a few weeks, but he (and his teammates) may be all done now. I actually picked up Neifi Perez (!) for a few hours yesterday, but when Nomar re-appeared, switched to Felipe Lopez, much to dp's amusement, I'm sure. There may be a "SS of the Day" next week; the revolving door never stops. I've had some luck with platoon matchups -- Mabry homered for me, but with Sheets and a couple of lefties in his immediate future, he was expendable. Needless to say, he may be recalled when he clears waivers and I'm inspired by another hunch.

Uncertain if the Phils would keep Thome in the lineup, I grabbed Ryan Howard (again) only to flip him late last night for Jason Kubel, who is off to a fantastic start and figures to get more playing time because the Twins have clinched. I'm hoping to wear down Lars in the counting stats by getting as many AB as possible the rest of the way, and crossing my fingers that my pitching staff doesn't blow up.
_AGF - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#31700) #
You're ahead Coach, but considering the aforementioned miserable performances from Mulder and Zito, I am still closer than I would have thought. I guess my hope will rest on better pitching performances through the next week and a half since all of the rate stats are pretty close - and maybe Walrus castoff Chacon can help Rivera in the saves category...
Coach - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 09:01 AM EDT (#31701) #
Lars, your three strong starts yesterday made it too close for comfort, and I'm well aware that all the pitching stats can go either way. It's far from over -- even if one of us has a substantial lead after Sunday, there's still a whole week to go.

You're very welcome to Chacon. The only reason he wasn't cut ages ago was Wagner's DL stint. (Even Billy "blew" a SV last night, although the blame for that goes to David Bell for the 2-out error. I'll take the W as a consolation prize.) I suffered through a lot of Chacon saves where he walked a couple, gave up a few hits, and allowed an earned run or two. Words can't describe how I felt about him after the nine that he's blown. If he turns out to be the difference maker for you, I'll never forgive him.

What comes into play more in the final than in any other match all year is that some of the real games are much more meaningful than others. For example, Freddy Garcia faces the Royals tonight, with nothing but pride at stake. I can only hope he takes it seriously. And some key hitters might see a reduction in playing time down the stretch. Despite my incessant micromanaging, I realize how much is out of my control, and am really just hoping for the best.
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