Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opening Day - A Family Tradition

There's something to be said for Spring Training, but Opening Day is when it all becomes real. Spring Training is a time for defrosting from a long cold baseball-less winter, warming up the muscles and gearing up for the season. But somewhere in the third or fourth week of March, the meaninglessness of the spring games set in, and baseball fans turn their sights towards Opening Day. Opening Day is when it all starts to matter, that's when we start keeping score. Filled with all the pomp and circumstance of a playoff atmosphere, the slate is wiped clean. Everyone has a renewed chance to compete for the right to play in October. No matter who your team is, there is a glimmer of hope, if only for a moment.

Opening Day is a Percell family tradition, at least for those of us in the mountain time zone.

It all started on April 9, 1993. Finally Major League Baseball was in Colorado. No more road trips across the nothingness of Kansas to see the "nearest-to" home team Kansas City Royals. Baseball was right here in our own backyard. I was in middle school at the time. My family bought 8 tickets so my two brothers and I could each take a friend along with my parents (Pictured Left to Right: Terri Coffan, Jay Percell, Mike Lotz, John (JT) Percell, Jerry Percell, Faith Percell, Jeff Percell, Gabe Ribas). We gathered with more than 80,000 of our closest friends in Mile High Stadium to celebrate my mom's birthday and the fact that we finally had a team of our own - the Colorado Rockies. Perhaps the most memorable part of the game was when Eric Young (Sr. as we now refer to him, pictured left) belted a lead-off home run off (then-soon-to-be Rockies pitcher) Kent Bottenfield.

That set the precedent. From then on, while not recognized by the federal government, Opening Day would be a holiday in the Percell Family.

April 26th, 1995 is another Opening Day's that will stand out above the rest. Coors Field had just been built and the Rockies had moved out of the massive football stadium that was Mile High. No one will recall the first time the Rockies played in Coors Field, as it came about a month before Opening Day in a two game end of Spring Training exhibition series with the New York Yankees using scab players, as the Players Union was on strike. Just before the season was to start with the replacement players, the union and owners settled their differences. The season was pushed back a month, so the real players could have a shortened Spring Training and Opening Day was set for April 26th that year.
My dad was out of town on business that week, returning to Denver on April 26th. It was snowing that day. Jay (my older brother) and I were both at Centaurus High School preparing to have baseball practice in the school gymnasium, when my mom called the school asking that we be dismissed from practice. My dad had flown into town and headed straight downtown, expecting to be able to find reasonably-priced seats on the street considering the weather. "I love it when a plan comes together." That was a cold, snowing off and then on again, night. Dante Bichette ended the game in walk-off fashion, blasting a 3-run home run in the bottom of the 14th inning. (Pictured Left to Right: Jay, JT, Jeff)

Since then, there have been many other birthdays celebrated at Coors Field - my wife's birthday is April 4th, and she married into the tradition. There was one other walk-off home run, Clint Barmes in 2005. Friday, we'll be celebrating JT and my birthdays (a few days belated) at Coors Field.

Happy Opening Day everyone, and don't forget to set your fantasy baseball lineups!

(Opening Day Lineups 4/9/1993)

(Opening Day 4/4/2005: Jeff and Jerry)

(Opening Day 4/3/2006: Jerry, Faith, Rachel, and Jeff)

(Opening Day 4/2/2007: Rachel, Isabelle [1st Regular Season Game], and Jeff)

(Opening Day 4/9/2010: Faith, JT, and Jerry)

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."
- A. Bartlett Giamatti

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Projecting the final standings

"What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun."

--Ecclesiastes 1:9

It isn't the Hunchmaster 3.0, but it is one rudimentary way to project the final PFBL standings. I went over each team's 2011 roster and added up the total points each player accumulated in 2010. Just a gross sum, bench players and all. For pitchers, I rounded any decimal to the nearest whole point. This projection model (if you can even call it that) predicts the final standings as follows:

Colorado TumbleWeed - 8323 points
Left Outs - 7830 points
KC Comebacks - 7692 points
Normal Baseball Inc - 7691 points
Record 6 - 7604 points
One Bad Pitch - 7448 points
Pioneer Skies - 7368 points
Bo Knows - 7169 points
Devil wears Prado - 6778 points
Bizarro Royals - 5970 points

Well there you have it, folks. Jeff is the manager to beat. LBM will have a monumental turnaround season. And once again, I will languish in seventh place. I said, rudimentary.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Draft Recap - 3/19/11

The annual Percell Fantasy Baseball Draft was held last Saturday, March 19, 2011.  The festivities kicked off at 10 am CDT, although owners were busy far earlier (some way earlier!) planning their draft strategies.

Google Images
Cole Hamels: PFBL top pick in 2011
In a surprise move, Matt Percell selected Cole Hamels #1 overall, but with each returning team retaining 3 players from 2010, names like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, and Roy Halladay were already off the board.

The rest of the first round went rather predictably: M Cabrerra, Pujols (keeper), R Cano, Cliff Lee, A Gonzalez, U Jimenez, R Howard, and M Texiera rounded out the opening picks.  2009 champ Matt McAlexander, with a squad newly renamed One Bad Pitch, jumped right back into the action to select T Lincecum at the top of round two.

All in all it was an excellent draft, although one owner, Nate Percell, suddenly opted out of the live draft at the zero hour - some excuse about in-laws coming into town.  However, it was widely rumored that Nate fabricated that excuse, believing the Yahoo Auto Draft mechanism might do a better job than he could.  With Record 6 yielding players like Albert Pujols, David Wright, Ian Kinsler, Ichiro Suzuki, and Matt Latos, he might prove to have been correct.  This pseudo-intentional auto-draft move subsequently threw a corkscrew into some owners' draft plans, who were counting on Nate to burn good draft picks with undesirable players.

Notheless, all rosters sit squarely at 22 with Opening Day looming, and this Points-only Fantasy League, starved for baseball, is licking its collective chops.

Welcome back baseball!
Oh how we have missed you!

The Commish