FARMINGDALE–The 20th season of Big East Meadow League baseball kicked off with all the pomp and circumstance inherent in a quarter bid on Ike Davis while the smell of Pall Mall® cigarettes wafts into a basement draft room. The Dirty Dogs welcomed Davis to their bench in the Shelter for a 50¢ salary, and BEML XX was on.
BEML XX welcomed the 24th franchise to the League. The father/son duo of Stuart and Zach came to play from South Jersey. They bided their time early, letting 19 players go by before nabbing speedster Jose Reyes ($3.75). The Ancient Maroners loaded up on closers (Farnsworth, Street, Motte, Betancourt, Perez, Francisco) and appear primed to compete strongly in ERA, WHIP and Saves. There were some heated arguments among the front office staff, but that just shows the fiery nature of these competitors. Stanton and Bruce will bring the lumber, and Lincecum, Weaver and CJ Wilson will bring the heat. Look for the Maroners to bury the standard for expansion team winning percentage set in 1994 by the New York Nine (.416). Thirty-nine points this year should do it; it says here this team will do far better than that and may even compete for the championship in their first year.
Last year’s champions the Barracudas came into the draft with their core intact, namely BEML 2011 MVP Matt Kemp and slugger Jose Bautista, along with aces Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw. The Fish swiped up newcomer Yu Darvish and then zeroed in on a slew of lesser-tier pitchers for 50¢ bids, including Mark Buehrle, Vance Worley, Johan Santana and Mike Minor, all the while complaining bitterly that no one would let the champ have any quarter guys. The Cudas are usually competitive but it says here they will have a tough time repeating in 2012.
The Dirty Dogs come back for their sixth season and appear to have drafted a dominant offense for 2012, featuring Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Mike Morse, Curtis Granderson and Carl Crawford. The Dogs have some injury risk on their staff (including Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson and Brian Wilson), but if all breaks right they should be in the hunt for their first BEML title.
Four-time champs Arsenal (f/k/a The 1 tweezy) had a need for speed, rostering burners Michael Bourn, Brett Gardner, Elvis Andrus and Jacoby Ellsbury. Paired with slugging cornermen Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez, Arsenal will try to get back to their winning ways in 2012.
Seven-time BEML champions the Craydawgs came into the draft with just one protected player (Cano) and set about trying to end a mini-drought in BEML titles (2009 being the last). The Dawgs like to win it all at least every three years (2000, 2003, 2006, 2009) and 2012 would fit the pattern. The Dawgs will go to battle with the highest-priced player of the 2012 draft, Ryan Braun, along with other returning players Mark Teixeira, Cano, Shane Victorino, and pitchers Ted Lilly, Juan Nicasio, Cory Luebke, Jordan Zimmermann and J.J. Putz. The Dawgs also distributed a free copy of the 472-page history of the BEML, Big East Meadow League XX: A 20th Season Retrospective, to all BEML XX attendees.
The Snowmen should again have a formidable pitching staff with a fearsome foursome of Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels and Josh Beckett. The Freeze are heavy on speed with Desmond Jennings, Angel Pagan, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Young and Jimmy Rollins, but may be lacking big bats beyond Miguel Cabrera and Paul Konerko. Nevertheless, expect them to be in the hunt as usual.
The Bears took a page from the Snowmen’s book and loaded up on quality starters including Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren and Yovani Gallardo. The Grizz may have left themselves a little short on power, however, as it appears they will rely primarily on lesser lights like Mark Reynolds, A-Ram and Josh Willingham to drive in runs.
The George Kents went heavy on sluggers Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki and Nelson Cruz and will begin the season without a true “ace” on the staff. The Kents left some money on the table with which they might have bought some more arms.
The BEMLBlog’s predicted order of finish for 2012:
Best of luck to all in 2012.