My wife tends to cheer for the players who wear stirrups. She wore them when she played. There’s a connection there.
The Vipers traded APTBNL to the San Angelo Colts of the United League for stirrup-wearing LHP Frank “Sweet Baby” James. Now before you explode in a glorious orgy of excitement and call all your friends to relay the happening, please know that this isn’t exactly breaking news.
Prior to introducing ourselves to Mr. James, lets try and learn something about his old league. The Baseball America 2009 Almanac dedicates pages 389 to 415 on independent baseball, focusing mostly on player stats you’d find on the backs of trading cards, summarizing entire leagues into a single paragraph, printing the final standings of each league, and revealing their love affair with Patrick Breen. In just one paragraph, however, they basically nailed the Golden League (more on this in a later post), so I’m going to assume they know what the heck they’re talking about. Here’s some of what the have to say on the United League:
Because of the league’s finacial issues, the rules for the first round of the playoffs were tweaked during the season to ensure that the teams with the superior attendance got to host the playoffs.
Ouch. Apparently, this cash-grab/screw-job for the loyal fans of the under-attended teams should have benefitted Frank’s San Angelo Colts (since they got to host an entire first round playoff series), but they didn’t capitalize and advance to the finals.
The Baseball America 2009 Almanac talks almost solely about the UL’s money woes, even pointing out that the two teams that didn’t make the playoffs in the six-team league closed shop before season’s end to save money. Again, a solid and accurate kick to the groin of loyal fans.
So we can’t use the Baseball America 2009 Almanac to find out what kind of league Frank James pitched in, but I think we can assume he might enjoy pitching in a league with more solid financial footing. For the record, though, San Angelo more than doubled Calgary in total attendance last year. It seems the more we learn about the UL, the less we understand, eh?
It also sounds like the league had some umpiring issues in critical moments. I’m a guy that Admires umpires with a capital-A, but missed calls hurt.
I’ve read the Independent Leagues section of the Baseball America 2009 Almanac over and over, but I still don’t know what it means when a * is next to a player’s name on the stat pages. Frank James has a * next to his name. Dammit, someone tell me what that means.
On a team that went 54-29, James went 7-5 with a 5.28 ERA. He gave the Colts 106 innings, allowed baserunners to reach on 124 hits and 42 walks, and he fanned 72. James has been a one of the few, the proud, the independent baseball players since 2003, when he was 22 years old. He’ll be 28 next season, but has to be considered a savvy veteran due to his experience.
James kicked of the 2008 season defensively for the Colts by initiating a triple-play. Now, expecting an equally awesome start to his Vipers debut is unfair, but James is a player who knows how to win, and winning is awesome enough in its own right.