CraneBrothers Win HBS Rotisserie League

The best pennant race of the baseball season was not won by the Braves, the Diamondbacks or even the Astros. That honor goes to AMB, which bested the Springfield Nukes’ sustained excellence and Pitching A Tent’s late-season charge in the “HBS Ultra” Rotisserie League.

Skippered by Chris Crane (OB), his brother Matt and “a silent partner who asked not to be identified,” AMB finished the season with 84 points, three ahead of second place Pitching A Tent. Carrying the third-lowest payroll in the league, AMB started the season in fifth place and trended steadily upward on a curve that would make Jack Welch proud.

Crane said the foundation for their success was laid at the all-important preseason draft. “We spent big early on [Yankee closer Mariano] Rivera, [A’s ace Tim] Hudson, and [White Sox slugger] Magglio Ordonez, then sat back while everyone blew their budgets. By the time they realized it, I was able to pick up guys like Ichiro for $8.”

Not that the Crane brothers were passive the rest of the season. On the contrary, they gambled by trading a potential Cy Young candidate in Hudson for Phillies’ fireman Jose Mesa at the All-Star break. “It paid off,” said Crane, “as we moved up nine places in saves for the second half, and still led the league in wins, walks plus hits per inning pitched, and ERA.”

In the end, one or two trades may have made the difference. Chris Grosso (OH), whose Springfield Nukes led for much of the season, said, “If I had to do one thing over, it would be not trading away Jaime Moyer at the season’s midpoint” for third baseman Tony Batista. “Who would have thunk it that he would have had a great second half. When I was shopping him, one GM told me that `Moyer sucks. He’s always sucked.’ And this GM was a knowledgeable guy.”

But Grosso was gracious in defeat. “Kudos to AMB, he said. “They won it on an excellent draft and a great, gutsy mid-season move to pick up Jose Mesa.”

When the season ended, AMB’s victory was toasted throughout the Crane family. When Chris’s mother heard he and brother Matt had won the pennant, she said, “I couldn’t be more proud. If it takes some immature, time-consuming computer game to make my sons talk to each other more than once every other month, I’m all for it.”

League Commissioner Lee Monahan (OH), who garnered praise from executives for organizing the inaugural season, is looking forward to 2002. “The league is hoping to expand next year. Those with the courage-and spare time-should let us know.”

League Awards
Best Bargain: Ichiro Suzuki $8, AMB
Most Overpaid Bust: Jason Kendall $38, Frog Sox
MVP: Barry Bonds, Springfield Nukes
Best Trade: Frog Sox trading Tony Batista to the Springfield Nukes for Jamie Moyer

Final Standings
1. AMB, Owners: Chris Crane (OB), Matt Crane
Weekly Rankings Hi: 1 Lo: 5
Payroll: $274
Bargain: Ichiro Suzuki, $8
Bust: Jeff Cirillo, $19
MVP: Mariano Rivera $43

2. Pitching a Tent, Owners: Jesse Selnick (OJ), Merrick Axel (OK)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 2 Lo: 12
Payroll: $462
Bargain: Matt Morris $1
Bust: Ken Griffey $35
MVP: Shawn Green $20

3. Springfield Nukes, Owners: Bhavesh Patel (OH), Chris Grosso (OH)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 1 Lo: 3
Payroll: $427
Bargain: Juan Gonzalez $13
Bust: Johnny Damon $31
MVP: Barry Bonds $32

4. Aikens, Balboni & Hamelin, LP, Owners: Jason Rapp (OI), Eric Sipe (OI)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 1 Lo: 5
Payroll: $304
Bargain: Mike Cameron $3
Bust: Todd Hundley $21
MVP: Vladimir Guerrero $41

5. The Rookies, Owners: Tenno Tsai (OF), Jeff Kaplan
Weekly Rankings Hi: 1 Lo: 8
Payroll: $414
Bargain: Tom Gordon $3
Bust: David Wells $27
MVP: Greg Maddux $38

6. The Big Pictures, Owner: Lee Monahan (OH)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 4 Lo: 8
Payroll: $370
Bargain: Aramis Ramirez $7
Bust: Frank Thomas $29
MVP: Kazuhiro Sasaki $20

7. The Seventh Inning Streakers, Owner: Jim Smith (OH)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 3 Lo: 8
Payroll: $275
Bargain: Fred McGriff $2
Bust: Bartolo Colon $26
MVP: Curt Schilling $27

8. Murphy’s Bleachers, Owner: JR Davis (OH)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 8 Lo: 13
Payroll: $336
Bargain: Jim Thome $8
Bust: Deion Sanders $15
MVP: Chipper Jones $35

9. Frog Sox, Owners: Rick Zednik (OF), Chaz Bertrand (OF), Mitch Leiman (OF)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 8 Lo: 11
Payroll: $314
Bargain: Jamie Moyer $2
Bust: Jason Kendall $38
MVP: Randy Johnson $42

10. Amazins, Owner: Sameer Ahuja (OE)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 5 Lo: 10
Payroll: $331
Bargain: Paul O’Neill $5
Bust: Mike Hampton $17
MVP: Sammy Sosa $36

11. The Miracles, Owners: Brendan Scollans (OJ), Rick Moore (OJ)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 7 Lo: 13
Payroll: $221
Bargain: Luis Gonzalez $14
Bust: Mike Lieberthal $18
MVP: Luis Gonzalez $14

12. JLDH, Owners: Justin Livengood (OK), David Hayes (OI)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 8 Lo: 12
Payroll: $318
Bargain: Roy Oswalt $6
Bust: El Duque Hernandez $11
MVP: Alex Rodriguez $46

13. The Mall Rats, Owner: Colston Young (OE)
Weekly Rankings Hi: 11 Lo: 13
Payroll: $203
Bargain: Rich Aurilia $7
Bust: Edgardo Alfonzo $31
MVP: Jimmy Rollins $6