Pippin the Dog’s 1995 USML Projections

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    • #2537
      Andy Klein

      A. History

      In 1991, the legendary Candyass splashed onto the USML projection scene by responding to Jeff Winick’s annual post-draft self-coronation. That year, Mr. Winick declared his ‘Berliners a certain champion just minutes after the USML concluded its traditional April auction. Mr. Winick picked the Klein Nine to finish ninth.

      Despite derisive cackles from Mr. Winick’s dictatorial sidekick (Mark Blocker), Candyass boldly predicted the Klein Nine to win the USML crown. The rest, of course, is glorious history. The Klein Nine went “wire to wire” in winning the coveted World Championship. The Win-Ick-Ben-Ein-Berliners finished a distant fourth.

      For the next two seasons, Candyass weighed in with projections after the annual USML auction. Unlike other prognosticators (such as Rich “I fill John Benson’s wallet” Robbins), Candyass never relied on publications, algebraic equations, or computer programs that eat available RAM like Alex Liberman devours red meat. Instead, Candyass relied on instinct and guile, much the way the owner of the Klein Nine plays the game.

      In 1993, Candyass added a commentator to his staff: Pippin the Dog. At the time, no one could have foreseen Pippin’s incredible gift for Rotisserie clairvoyance. But, when the dust settled, Pippin’s 1993 predictions were astoundingly accurate.

      In 1994, Pippin proved that her 1993 performance was no fluke.  Recall, for example, several of Pippin’s 1994 prognostications …

      • Pippin the Dog on the Winickohns: “Pippin the Dog is not especially impressed with Winick’s roster. She thinks the rookies with hot Aprils will fade. She also thinks that Winick’s offense has more ’empty slot’ than a bankrupt New Jersey casino.” The rookies faded and Winick’s brutally-bad offense tallied a meager 12 points. As Pippin predicted, the Winickohns finished seventh.
      • Pippin the Dog on Democrats for Nixon: “[Liberman will finish out of the money because he drafted] the wrong Alomar (Sandy instead of Roberto), the wrong Smith (Dwight instead of Lee), and the wrong Kirby (Wayne instead of Puckett).” Liberman could have bought Kirby Puckett alone and generated more power than his feeble triumvirate produced.
      • Pippin the Dog on the Rothmaniacs: “[This franchise cannot be saved] from its achilles’ heels: high-ratio pitching and idiosyncratic drafting.” Led by the likes of Detroit ace John Doherty (1.628), the Rothmaniacs finished eighth in ratio en route to a last place finish.

      Pippin also fared well in forecasting league leaders. Pippin correctly projected that the Klein Nine, the Red Hots, and the Angry Young Men would emerge as 1994’s three best squads. As Alex Liberman once said: “Pippin is truly the Nostradamus of Rotisserie Baseball.” Without further ado, Pippin’s picks follow.

      B. The Projections

      1. MARK BLOCKER’S FOUR LEAF CLOVERS: After hyperventilating through three weeks of rules disputes, The High Lord Commissioner finally made it to Draft Day. Pippin the Dog thinks that the extra oxygen did Mark some good. Unlike 1994, the Clovers bought vast amounts of power (Tettleton, Palmeiro, Greg Vaughn, Gonzales, and Olerud) and more saves than Tony Esposito. Despite a lack of speed, Pippin feels that the Clover’s renowned good fortune will place the Clovers atop the USML in 1995.


      1. THE DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION KLEIN NINE: In 1994, the Klein Nine definitively proved itself the USML’s premier franchise. Adopting a breathtaking “pitchers-be-damned” draft strategy, the Nine bought tons of offense and coasted to victory. So complete was the Nine’s domination, Pippin hears that the players went on strike simply to save the rest of the USML from further embarrassment. The Nine remains a contender in ’95. The Klein offense features thumpers Griffey, McGwire, and Ventura. The Klein bullpen is anchored by Big Lee Smith. As for starters … Pippin says: “Who needs ’em!”


      1. JOSEPH’S RED HOTS: Pippin the Dog gives Rich points for paying attention. In 1993, Pippin chastised Rich for his ill-fated use of a laptop on draft day. In 1994, Rich left the laptop at home. In 1994, Pippin chastised Rich for drafting ancient players. In 1995, Rich supplemented his Geritol Gang (Boggs, Carter, Nixon, Molitor, Eckersley) with guys so young they can’t yet drink (Tony Clark, Denny Hocking, Sherman Obando, Ron Villone). Someday, Rich will realize that some players are actually in their prime. When he does, Pippin thinks he’ll challenge for a title. Someday isn’t here yet.


      1. RIPTORNS (a.k.a. “Winick’s Friends Who Like the White Sox”): In a maneuver not seen since the heyday of Rick (“I’ll buy all the Orioles”) Gammons, the Riptorns spent more than 40% of their money on players from one team ($108 on the White Sox’s Thomas, Hernandez, Durham, Ruffcorn, and Baldwin). Fortunately for the Riptorns, their White Sox players are good. Unfortunately for the Riptorns, the rest of their players are not. The outfield trio of Mieske, Hosey, and Flora is obscure enough to play for the Rothmaniacs. And the NL pitcher strategy (Hershiser, Tewksbury, and Gross) won’t work. Nonetheless, Pippin feels that the Riptorns bought enough Chicago talent to finish in the money in ’95.


      1. HOOSIER DADDIES: Late in the 1995 draft, the Gammons franchise finally matured. The moment occurred when Rich Robbins suddenly called out, “Sherman Obando, one dollar!” All eyes turned toward Gammons. “Going once,” cried Emily. Rick bit his tongue. “Sherman Obando going twice.” Robbins winced. “Sherman Obando sold to the Red Hots!” Pippin the Dog recalls a day when Rick could not have contained himself. Pippin also wonders how good the Hoosier Daddies would be if Rick had matured slightly earlier — for example, on cut-down day when he could have dumped Arthur Rhodes and Jeffrey Hammonds. While Pippin doesn’t foresee Gammons in the money this year, she views the Hoosier Daddies as a team on the rise … that is, unless they retain Curtis Goodwin at $16 for 1996!


      1. WIN-ICK-BEN-EIN-BERLINERS: Despite the Great Rookie Debacle of ’94, Winick chose to do battle with his young troops (Delgado, Ramirez, Sele, etc.) intact. On draft day, the USML held its collective breath, waiting for The Emir to supplement his Kiddie Corps with proven talent. Roberto Alomar, perhaps? Nope. Winick drafts Luis Alicea. Albert Belle? Try Tom Goodwin. How about John Wetteland? Nah. Instead the ‘Berliners take Jeff Russell, Darren Oliver, and Grame Lloyd (SEVEN dollars for Grame Lloyd??!!). It’s put up or shut time for Winick, who last won a title during the Bush Administration. Pippin feels that sixth place is about right.


      1. ANGRY YOUNG MEN: Pippin the Dog is sick and tired of praising Linton and then watching him falter. This year, Pippin won’t make the same mistake. Pippin is initially skeptical of any franchise that spends $24 on a pair of Valentins (no doubt a world record). Pippin becomes even more doubtful when the Valentins’ supporting cast includes the likes of Shumpert, Leius, Kreuter, Myers, and Devereaux. Finally, Pippin wonders where Linton is going to find his innings. Three-man rotations (Linton has Bosio, Johnson, and Gordon) went out of style about the time the Cubs last won a World Series. At the rate things are going, Pippin thinks that the AYM might become the Cubs of the USML.


      1. ROTHMANIACS: Apparently, the Benson Number Crunchers (i.e. Winick and Kerber) are projecting great things for the Rothmaniacs in 1995. Pippin the Dog concedes that no one deserves a banner campaign more than Emily. But Pippin also knows that six-starter staffs are a recipe for ratio disaster — especially when that staff includes Mark Gubicza, an out-of-shape Wilson Alvarez, and some guy named Wasdin. Pippin also feels that Emily doesn’t have the offense to make up for her pitching problems: the outfield trio of Aldrete, Hudler, and Edmonds couldn’t scare a little league pitcher. At least Emily won’t be completely disappointed … after years of trying, she finally got Travis Fryman!


      1. NUKES: Pippin the Dog feels that Kerber might be dangerous if he stopped yammering on Draft Day and actually paid attention. Instead, the Nukes gave the league his best Mel Kiper imitation while assembling a mediocre collection of players. Kerber’s troops include a Cubs’ reject (Derrick May), a $16 backup infielder (Brent Gates), an injured, ancient shortstop (Alan Trammell), and two useless Angels (Easley and Perez). As if to prove Pippin’s point, the Nukes closed out the draft by destroying a potentially decent pitching staff with the addition of Todd Stottlemyre. Pippin looks forward to another season of Nukes wheeling and dealing … someone will appreciate his transactions fees come October!


      1. MARKED TO THE MARKET (a.k.a. “Winick’s Brother”): Pippin the Dog knew it was bad when she learned that Mark Winick spent much of the draft listening to whispers from his brother. The results were predictable: A six-starter staff (led by noted ratio-wrecker Kenny Rogers) and an offense that might challenge for the worst batting average of all-time. Pippin notes that the Market’s worst picks at least provide cover for some of the more dubious ‘Berliner selections. For example, Alicea at $7 doesn’t look so bad compared to Barberie at $11. And Mayne at a buck is a bargain compared to Karko (and his .210 batting average) for $4. In short, Pippin declares the 1995 season “October of ’29” for the newest Winick franchise.
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