Chet LemonFebruary 11, 2010
My wife, friends, family, cats, job, hopes, dreams: all these things should probably not expect too much from me over the next couple months, as I will be involved in not one but two imaginary baseball leagues that are already threatening to make a ghost out of me in this world. The second of the two leagues won’t be starting for a couple weeks, and it will heavily involve the 1977 Boston Red Sox and my first addiction (if you don’t count television), Strat-O-Matic, but I’ll talk more about that when it gets underway. Today I want, with your help, to address a pressing issue concerning the team I have in the first league, which has had its draft and which is days away from its first games.
This league is situated in the fevered minds of its players and on the web at Rob Neyer Baseball. Rob invited me to be a part of a “media league” along with the following fellow managers: Craig Calcaterra, Gordon Edes, Jonah Keri, Rany Jazayerli, Bob Keisser, Richard Lally, Norm Wamer, Carson Cistulli, the namesake of the site himself, and two of the site’s guru/owners, Barry Koren and Charles Wolfson. (The latter two handicapped themselves with a lower salary cap than the rest of us, which will make it so much more enjoyable when they beat our asses anyway.)
Speaking as a longtime addict of simulated baseball, I give the game itself high marks in its ability to destroy entire days, and I’m saying that even before the season starts. The player pool is vast and the amount of time that can be spent considering all the variables of team-building seems to be infinite. Partly to limit the variables so as to save my sanity, and partly because I live in the 1970s, and partly because I honestly (albeit unobjectively) believe the 1970s and maybe a little of the 1980s to be the historical peak of baseball, I decided to forego the joys of selecting deadball era guys named Three-Finger or Smokey or members of the Gas House Gang or steroidal juicers or Negro Leaguers or anyone at all who had the misfortune of playing outside the era when I cared the most about the game.
This drafting strategy (which was augmented by an attempt to gather hitters and pitchers who would seem to be fairly well-suited to a ballpark that is good for home runs but not so good for batting average; I went with US Cellular, which I can take public transportation to in case the imaginary scenarios ever spill into the real world, which is the kind of thing all madmen both hope for and dread) raises a couple questions. The first—can a team formed from players from the Cardboard Gods era compete with teams drawing on players from every corner of baseball history?—will be revisited throughout the season here on this site. The second can be answered right now, with input from visitors to this site, who would know:
Who should be the captain of my squad?
The card at the top of this page should let you know where I’m leaning, but I’m willing to put it to a vote. Before presenting the candidates (i.e., my entire roster), a couple words about Chet’s candidacy:
He is one of the better players on my team. I actually wasn’t planning to draft him, but Gordon Edes, damn him, swiped my top choice for my first pick, Jim Wynn, and I had to go back to the drawing board. Lemon offered a slightly cheaper version of the things Wynn would give me. Now that I have him I’m glad I do. From what I read, he played hard all the time, and he did everything well, definitely good things to have in a captain. Also, perhaps more importantly, a captain of my team has to have a sense of what the team is all about, and in this regard only Bill Lee and Oscar Gamble would be better qualified than Chet Lemon, who while not possessing the era-embracing quirks and iconoclasm and imagination of my top lefty starter or the epochal ecliptic Afro of my leftfielder can still definitely call himself a deep traveler in the lands of the 1970s. Chet Lemon wore the lapels of the White Sox, and wore the white hat with the giant “SOX” across the crown, and even for god’s sake wore those shorts the White Sox took the field with one day in 1976. My fellow Americans, let me conclude with this: he was the starting centerfielder on Disco Demolition Night.
So my vote’s for Chet Lemon, but please don’t let that stop you from making the case for any of the following. (Note: I had to bend my 1975-1981 Cardboard Gods roster-inclusion rules slightly to include leadoff hitter Don Buford and bullpen catcher John Bateman, who both hung it up in 1972, and Carmelo Martinez, who didn’t make it to the majors until 1983.)
Ellie Hendricks, Tim Laudner, and John Bateman
Willie Aikens, Deron Johnson, Ron Oester, Julio Cruz, Dave Concepcion, Jerry Royster, Mike Cubbage, and Don Buford
Oscar Gamble, Chet Lemon, Bobby Bonds, Mike Jorgenson, Carmelo Martinez, and Rick Manning
Rick Reuschel, Bill Lee, Jim Beattie, Mike LaCoss, Luke Walker, Terry Forster, Kevin Saucier, Dale Murray, Warren Brusstar, Tim Stoddard, and, last but never ever least, Dick Pole