Take Home Fourth BEML Title
FARMINGDALE–Matt Kemp strode through a jubilant Barracudas clubhouse here after the final pitch of the 2011 season, through champagne spray and the galloping riff of Heart’s 1977 hit “Barracuda,” and past the outstretched hands of teammates seeking to “slap fin”–the Cudas’ infectious take on the high five. Kemp moved single-mindedly toward the seven-foot tall figure holding court in front of aces Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay, among others.
Kemp rushed toward his target and leapt straight into the arms of… Barry Cuda®. “Goddamn, Barry,” he screamed with delight. “You f***in’ fish… We did it… We did it.” Kemp’s screams turned to tears of joy, which soaked into the mascot’s beer and bubbly-matted fur.
The 2011 Barracudas rally around Barry Cuda in celebration of their fourth BEML title.
Long thought dead after rabid Craydawgs fans attacked and decapitated “Big Blue” in a bacchanalian celebration of their 2009 championship, Barracudas ownership dramatically turned the tables, resurrecting the storied mascot during the last week of the 2011 season. Trailing the arch rival Dawgs by a half-point heading into the final week–and inspired to new heights by Barry Cuda®–a reinvigorated Barracudas squad took things over and walked away with the crown, by no fewer than eight points:
It was 2011 BEML MVP Kemp (.324/39/126/40) who pushed the Fish over the top offensively after coming over in a trade-deadline deal from Project Mayhem, hitting .337 with 12 HRs, 38 RBI and 10 steals in just 169 at-bats for the Fish, including .386/5/13 in the final week alone. Unsung heroes Michael Bourn (.294 with 53 steals, including six in the final week) and Michael Young (.339 and 107 RBI in 631 at-bats; .469 in the last week) helped Los Pescados to the lead league in BA and Steals, and the Fish rode their “Big Three” pitching staff the rest of the way to their fourth BEML title and their third in the last eight seasons. Clayton Kershaw (21 Wins, 248 Ks, 2.28/0.98), Roy Halladay (18/217/2.41/1.05) and Dan Haren (16/184/3.20/1.12) dominated the BEML all season long. Perhaps most impressively, the Cudas were able to overcome the surprising collapses of Adam Dunn (.179/5/23 in 162 at-bats) and Alex Rios (.206/4/12/4), and an injured Shin-Soo Choo (.244/5/28/11).
Heart rocks the Barracudas after-party:
In a veritable replay of their 2008 season loss to the Cudas, the Craydawgs again choked up the lead in the last week of the season, dropping two points in BA and Steals and another point in ERA. It is the third silver medal in the Dawgs’ history. The Dawgs led the BEML in HRs, RBI and Runs but suffered in the Wins category, finishing 7th with only 82 wins despite nearly maxing out the innings limit. Ryan Braun (.332/33/111/33) and Joey Votto (.309/29/103/8) powered the Dawgs attack, but the Dawgs were hampered by their pitching staff, which featured only one 10-game winner (Shaun Marcum, 13 Wins, 158 Ks, 3.54/1.16) and was let down by anchor Chad Billingsley (4.65 ERA in 89 innings).
The third-place Snowmen were the first team in BEML history to sweep the pitching categories. They also set the all-time BEML standard for Strikeouts (1437) and WHIP (1.11) and came within a snowflake of the ERA record (3.02, 2005 Barracudas). The Frost leaned on 2011 Greg Maddux Award Winner Justin Verlander (24 Wins, 250 Ks, 2.40/0.92) and Cliff Lee (17/238/2.40/1.03) to overwhelm BEML hitters, but mostly underwhelmed at the plate due to disappointing seasons from Carl Crawford (.253/11/54/16) and Chase Utley (.260/10/42/13). The Snowmen grabbed the Bronze for the third year in a row.
The George Kents nestled into fourth place for the second straight year, finishing a solid but unspectacular campaign. The Kents placed no higher than third and no lower than sixth in any statistical category. Adrian Gonzalez led the way with a .338 average with 27 HRs and 117 RBI, but the Kents faithful were disappointed with big-ticket free agents Matt Holliday (.295/22/75/1) and Evan Longoria (.233 in 331 at-bats).
The fifth-place Dirty Dogs wrote the season off by the end of July and traded off 11 players running up to the August 15 trade deadline, grabbing low-priced talent such as Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, Joel Hanrahan and Brandon League. The Dogs will also likely bring back David Ortiz, who enjoyed a stellar comeback season at a cheap price ($0.50): .309/29/96.
The sixth-place Bears are on the upswing after 2010’s last place fiasco and remain the longest tenured BEML team without a ring (14 seasons). The Grizz featured a characteristically strong offense with Justin Upton (.306/25/75/18) and Albert Pujols (.292/29/74/6 in 418 at-bats before a trade to the Kents), but the ursine pitching staff struggled at the bandbox known as The Cave, and none were more disappointing than Francisco Liriano (6.37 ERA in 82 innings).
Project Mayhem actually was in contention for a bit during the dog days of summer but exceeded the 1,500 innings limit (earning only five points in those categories) and ended up in seventh place. MVP Matt Kemp was sold off to the Barracudas, but Adam Jones developed nicely (.279/25/83/12) and will likely return for the league minimum salary along with pitcher C.J. Wilson ($0.75, 16 Wins, 206 Ks, 2.94/1.19).
One year after winning the BEML championship, The 1 tweezy went from first-to-worst; it is the only time it has happened since the 2003-04 Craydawgs. Moreover, the 2012 tweez posted the worst winning percentage in BEML history (.129), breaking the record set by Love The Drake in 2005 (.133). T1t cashed in his chips in early June, trading off talent for 2012 protected slots, and ended up finishing last in every offensive category except steals (second to last). As noted by the Commish, “T1T has 18 protected slots for next season, and at least 3 players worth keeping.”