Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joe D and Splendid Splinter as Devil Rays... How it came to be.

So I ponder the argument. Who WAS better? DiMaggio or Williams?

AS #2 Devil Rays fan I propose the theory that they both indeed SUCKED! They were a Yankee and Red Sock afterall! OK, they never had a chance to be Devil Rays, but ''what if they did''.... What... if they....diiiiiid???



I always used the argument that Joe D's hitting streak is the most garbagely overrated record in all of sports. 56 game hitting streak... woo woo.... it just means you ogood or lucky 56 games in a row. It doesn't even neccessarily mean you had an awesome run of 56 games! You can go 1-5 for 57 straight games and be a hero!

I'm not saying it isn't a feat. Of course it is. But let us put it into perspective. During DiMaggio's streak he batted .408. So what did he bat during the rest of the season? Go look it up. Here's the punchline: Ted Williams batted .406 for the ENTIRE season that same year. Is 56 straight games better than whole season?

The other thing, lost time: they both paid the price here.

So I decided that if the two players played for the same team, the variables such as Yankee stadium and Fenway could be equalized. All I needed was a control such as another franchise...

Ahhh... modern technology! It's a bitch and a ho that we're hooked on, as we keep coming back for more, now, faster! A little application called "Baseball Mogul" has wasted many a sit-on-my-asstasic days. It's a baseball simulator where I could transport data from the Tampa Bay Devil Ray franchise today transport it to the past and let history be rewitten (but not without an imaginative story attached).

But HOW do I get the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to sign Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and slap a Rays Jersey on them? Haa haa ha ha haaa! Pure evil, that's how!

So I present to you what happened the time time tim,e ti,me t,imetimeitmreijre that everything was rearranged and the present as you know it was altered.


The year is 1937. Things are a little testy in the world. A bright minded executive of a minor league baseball team named Frank Jingleheimerschmidt has a hunch and tries to intervene in the icy relations between his native Germany and his beloved adopted land of America.

Frank (whose real name was Franz Jingleheimerschmidtkopf) came to New York and learned to play stickball in the Brooklyn alleys. He fell in love with the game of baseball. After his deli brands took off in popularity, through the depression, he made himself a nominal fortune. So he bought a floundering basbeball team in Hoboken and turned it into a viable franchise with gimmicks, schtick and hoaxes to draw in the masses and enjoy an afternoon of sideshow and baseball It was quite an event.

One day, Jingleheimerschmidt dropped a few names (his cousin was a bigwig in government) and had arranged for Adolph Hitler to come catch a Hoboken Yamikas game. Old Franz is gonna sell out of weiners that day!

Well, time passes as it often does, and Hitler shows up for the game. A big hubbub is made, but the game starts relatively on time. Young pitcher Dave McGillicutty chucks a slider in on the hands of Yamikas' clean up hitter "Muscles" Smashinski who pulls a screamer right over the dugout and directly into the temple of the former poster painter.

Hitler is knocked square into a 3 month coma before emerging several points lower in IQ and returns to painting posters on the streets of Germany. Of course, World War II never happens.

Now that makes you wonder. If there was no WWII, what about all of the technical advances like radar and sonar or the quirky cliches like "the whole nine yards"? Well, a wizard did some of it, but otherwise technology was advanced at the same approximate time because I said so. Nuclear weapons are never made because timehey skipped right over it for personal, portable cold fusion applicators. EVERYONE has 'em!

Meanwhile, baseball becomes EXTREMELY popular in America. More people play it than ever and it helps lead an economic revival all across the land. Expansion teams hit the Junior Circuit in 1939 in Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Amazingly the franchise in Tampa Bay builds the first dome in sports and it's literally decades ahead of it's time, called Tropicana Field (it looks ''eerily'' similar to the current stadium AND has the exact same dimensions as it is this very day) and has this technologically advanced "FieldTurf II" on it. AStroTurf never comes to be and no one can figure out if there was a FieldTurf I.

In the expansion draft, the newly formed Tampa Bay Devil Rays select Ted Williams and Robert Feller while craftily making trades for Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig.

*editor's note - so NOW, Williams and DiMaggio are both Devil Rays, plus we worked out Lou Gehrig, who moves to Tampa - St Petersburg and amazingly enough, he avoids getting ALS somehow, so he gets to play out his career normally (but he never gets to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth).

So who would have made the better Devil Ray? DiMaggio or Williams? I'm going to play out their careers and compare notes at the end...

On to the data!!!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the first season, 1939.

Tampa Bay, in their inaugural season loses game 7 in the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 as Lefty Gomez (yeah, we got him too) was trying to complete the shutout only to give up 5 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. Coach Grady Little Sr. said "I stuck with my ace"

Rookie of the Year (oh, yeah, that award was invented by then) Ted Williams swatted .327/28/129 while Joe DiMaggio hit 54 HRs and batted .381 (second in both categories). Lou Gehrig missed a few games, ending his consecutive games played streak but still plowed 55 HRs while Jimmie Foxx paced the league at .384 with 53 HRs and a new record 207 RBIs while running away the MVP award for the Devil Rays (Oh, yeah, I picked up Foxx, too!) But the bitter disappointment of losing game 7 left me wanting more! Four players in ALL of baseball hit more than 37 homers; 3 of them are Devil Rays! Arky Vaughn provided good defense all year.

The Next season - 1940
Basically the same team with a few pickups in the bullpen.
We win 122 games, face the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series rematch and sweep them badly. 13-6, 13-5, 11-3 and 17-11

Lou Gehrig, the only batter with over 35 homers in either league in 1940 and second player to cross the 600 HR plateau, goes .360-43-213 on the season for the AL MVP!!! He also celebrates his 3,000 th hit during the season

Williams .353-33-129 .466 OBP
DiMaggio .349-32-125 .434 OBP

1941 - The dream season
DiMaggio doesn't get anywhere near his hit streak and although Ted Williams flirts with .400 most of the season he ends up well short.

Williams .350-30-169,
DiMaggio at .327-36-154.

The Devil Rays win 116 games. Jimmie Foxx keeps chugging along at an incredible pace, getting another MVP award But we face a new team in the World Series, the Chicago Cubs! And we sweep them too! Dynasty! Dynasty! Dynasty!

And there's no World War II to stop us!

1942 - An aging team...
Gehrig and Foxx are fading fast. Stats are down league wide, for some weird reason, even with no war. Arky Vaughn wins the batting title and we face the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Fall Classic and win in 5 games

Williams .305-22-125
DiMaggio .297-18-140

1943 - Another 116 win season in a new deadball era.
Jimmy Foxx and Lou Gehrig are showing signs of aging but are still steely veterans.
Up against the Chicago Cubs once again and sweep them easily. 3 sweeps in 4 years!

Williams .307-11-108 (64 Doubles!!)
DiMaggio .298-11-131

1944- Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx's last hurrah not enough!
Lou comes into the season with 646 homers, Jimmie Fozz at 587.
Now I have a problem! The young talent I have been harboring in my minor league system are pushing for playing time. DiMaggio might have to go to left to make room for a can't miss prospect.

But I gotta keep the project intact. DiMaggio and Williams MUST be teammates their whole careers!!! I stuff the prospect away in the minors and may one day trade him for pitching...Nope, in late August the rookie can't be suppressed any longer. We're 3 and 1/2 games behind the Senators! We need his offense, Joe, who is struggling, drops a few slots in the batting order and is batting just .269. Out of the lineup comes Jimmie Foxx who starts the farewell party around the league. Gehrig, at 40 years old. Joe D puts on a 1st baseman's glove to replace Foxx.

The Rookie gets hurt, back to CF for DiMaggio and a pennant race down the stretch! With 9 games left, Tampa Bay was behind the Senators by 7.5 games!!! Washington won the division on the last day of the season when the Senators end a 6 game losing streak to clinch. 103 wins just doesn't get you what it used to!

The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 to win the World Series

Williams .316-14-119
DiMaggio .268-11-119

Gehrig wants to hang on one more year, apparently and Detroit offers me Wally Berger for him. I do Lou a favor and let him keep playing. Hell, he should have been dead already! I turn around and deal off Berger to the Yankees for Chuck Klein (who also found extended career in my little exercise)

What a weird season that 1944! 20 homers leads the league, even though 6 players do it. Lou Fette wins his 4th Stiles Award (best pitcher award, like Cy Young Award).

1945 -
At the all-star break, there's a three way tie for 1st in the AL East - Tampa Bay, New York and Washington. Joe DiMaggio trade rumors are rampant, but I won't deal him! I have young talent pushing Williams in the outfield (which is why he has been predominantly a right fielder). Jimmie Foxx is better now than three years ago.

On the last day of the season, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and New York Yankees are tied with 104-57 records (yeah, 162 games in 1945) The teams have met for the last 7 games of the season, spliting the last 6 evenly, but the last game was a blowout 15-2 in favor of the Devil Rays. It would all come down to a final game for the division title.

The Devil Rays took a 3-0 lead into the top of the ninth with Dizzy Dean on the hill when all hell broke loose. with two outs and the bases loaded an error by Dean scored 2. Then he walked the bases loaded again before getting out of the inning on a line drive right back at him!

The Rays win a dramtic 7 game ALCS 8-7 over the Blue Jays on a ninth inning Joe DiMaggio walkoff solo HR.

Then the World Series against the (guess who?) 111-51 Chicago Cubs! Who then BEAT us 4-2!!! I guess the billy goat was allowed in!!

Williams .296-9-115 (Is it me or is he turning into Mark Grace in this exercise?)
DiMaggio .267-10-127 (50 doubles and one ALCS winning HR)

Pitching talent has come up through the farm system and has really flooded the organization with assets. I'm sticking to DiMaggio and Williams even if it costs me Titles! Although, I'm sliding them down the order a bit...

106-56 record and runaway division title, a-gain!

Rematch with the "Defending Champion" Cubs in the World Series and the Cubs win in 6!!! Dammit!

Williams perks up a bit throughout the season and I'm having a hard time giving PT to DiMaggio. This is not what I thought would happen! It's hard to argue he's hurting us, I just have better players on the bench. Ted is solid and rightfield is all his!

Williams .344-14-129
DiMaggio .251-10-120 (OBP .339 eek!)

Jimmie Foxx still playing, has 618 HRs and batted .211 in his 23rd season in the bigs. Lou Gehrig, still playing in Detroit is finishing his 25th season! 4309 hits, 685 HRs and over 3000 RBI!! But it looks like Mel Ott won't reach 500 HRs.

I stick with what I have and let the pitchers develop.

Another runaway division crown at 112-50, Arky Vaughn wins his second MVP the Devil Rays are league dominant and we match up with old pal Lou Gehrig (now all-time hit leader and has 700 HRs) his Detroit Tigers for the AL crown. We beat the Tigers to face (guess who?) the Chicago Cubs for the third season in a row and 5th matchup overall.

The Cubs win the World Series in 7 games winning a boring game seven, 5-4.

Williams .280 - 15 - 107
DiMaggio .276 - 12 - 88

119-43 Devil Rays win their division by 31 games and faces the New York Giants in the World Series and win in 5 games.

Wooo! It feels good to be champs again!!

Williams .327 - 11 - 118
DiMaggio .304 - 34 - 143 HGH? Nope, he's DHing! (Oh, yeah... I like DHs)

1949 -
After a really slow start, we win the division by 33 and oh yeah, have a record of 125-37 (all about the pitching)
Surprise! Meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series AGAIN! But this time we dispose of them in 5 games. BACK-to-BACK!!

Williams .315-16-115
DiMaggio .302-22-122


False Prophet said...

WTF Erik?

So Gherig doesn't have to retire, and somehow ends up on the Devil Rays. HE finnishes with 700 HR's, after '49. What happens then? Does he come back, or retire? You essentially kill baseball history with this simulation. No Lou Gherig's disease, no Lou Gherig consecutive starts record, the Cubs win a World Series, Ted williams and Dimaggio are not remembered as HOFers, and neither of them set records. A team wins 125 games? Great work, but I think there are a couple of problems with it.

Manny Stiles said...

(the story goes on) I can't say the simulator worked accurately, but the story it told was.

If DiMaggio and Williams were Devil Rays, they wouldn't have sucked so much.

And Lou Gehrig was the greatest Devil Ray or Baseball player ever.

You can tell where the simulation started running long and I started getting tired.

False Prophet said...

It's a great story, I can't deny that.

DiMaggio was a one year type of player in my mind. Good career with one amazing year that everyone remembers. Williams hit .480 one year!!! That's practially every other at bat that he got a hit.

What would happen to Gherig beyond those years? Does he return, or retire?

False Prophet said...

also, if you want to continue this discussion, I'd prefer it to take place either via AIM (same username) or via Meebo on my AGM page.

Anonymous said...