There's an over-40 baseball tournament being held in Canova, South Dakota starting on September 6th. Details about prizes appear sketchy, but I have to assume that we're talking big money, it being Canova and all.
There's nothing I love more than grifting silver foxes, so in the spirit of Montgomery Burns, I have assembled a team of ringers which, despite lacking a true third baseman, figures to take home the grand prize. It is certainly more of a pitching-strong team than a hitting team, but I think we could rake pretty good by South Dakota standards. Heck, the outfield alone would represent an improvement for half the league. Here's my squad:
C: Sandy Alomar (age: 41; OPS+ -3). I know he was designated for assignment and can't play anymore, but I don't need him to hit, I only need him to catch and throw it back to the centerpiece of my team, the pitching staff;
1B: Jeff Conine (age: 41; OPS+ 84). Hey, he's had playing time on both the team with the best record in the NL all season and the team with the best record in the NL over the past two months. Count tha rings, baby!;
2B: Craig Biggio (age: 41; OPS+ 75). It's hard to find scrappy and old in the same package, but Biggio brings both to the table;
SS: Omar Vizquel (age: 40; OPS+ 62). He's obviously here for his glove;
3B: OK, we're kind of screwed here. I have a couple of options. I could play Omar fairly deep in the hole and hope he can cover both short and third. That may work, because I'm guessing that the competition is going to be pretty slow-of-foot. I could also alter Jeff Cirillo's birth certificate, setting him back a couple of years, though it would be pretty embarrassing to get caught cheating in an over-40 tournament. Finally -- and this is probably the option I would go with -- I could put Conine over here and install Julio Franco at first base. I mean, c'mon, you have to put Julio on this team somewhere, don't you?
RF: Moises Alou (age: 40; OPS+ 125). Really a left fielder, but given the hits I'm taking with infield offense, I have to work his bat in somewhere;
CF: Kenny Lofton (age: 40; OPS+ 108). You know he still wants to cover center. Plus, this would give him, what, a twelfth team on his resume?
LF: Barry Bonds (age: 42; OPS+ 184). The heavy hitter on this club. And given how much Geritol, ginko biloba, Ben-Gay and Gold Bond Medicated Powder that will be used by the players in this tournament, it's not like Barry's drug use is going to raise any eyebrows;
Now the pride of my team, the pitching staff:
SP: John Smoltz (age: 40; ERA+ 143). He's among the best in the big leagues this season, so I think he could handle the South Dakotans fairly well;
SP: Orlando Hernandez (age: 41; ERA+ 137). My only concern is that we'll find out that he's actually 50 and will be disqualified for being too old. If that happens, he's still guaranteed to be the ace of my slow-pitch softball team;
SP: Curt Schilling (age: 40; ERA+ 110). Health may be an issue, but there are many potential replacements if he breaks down (see below). Even if he stays healthy, though, the rest of the team may get so sick of his mouth that we leave him behind at a Stuckeys during the bus ride to Canova;
SP: Tim Wakefield (age: 40; ERA+ 109). Gotta have a knuckleballer;
SP: Greg Maddux (age: 41; ERA+ 106). Won't benefit from PETCO in this tourney, but he's still crafty enough to get the job done);
There are many other options for the rotation. If we go by ERA+, Clemens just misses the cut. By the way, it must be pretty hard to be a Yankees' fan this year given that the team's putative savior couldn't crack an over-40 squad. Glavine falls short too, which breaks my heart, because I would love nothing more than to assemble the old Braves rotation for this tourney. Heck, I'd love to have Glavine and Maddux for the back end of the Braves rotation this year. Also-rans include Kenny Rogers, Woody Williams, and David Wells, who I may include on the roster even if he can't pitch, because you never know when you'll need a speedster to leg out a bunt.
The bullpen is a bit thin, but I'm sure I can cobble together some mix of Mike Timlin (age: 41; ERA+ 158), Doug Brocail (age: 40; ERA+ 110), Roberto Hernandez (age: 42; ERA+ 71), and Mike Stanton (age: 40; ERA+ 75) and make things work. Maybe this is where I stick Glavine too, just so he can be on the team.
My guess? We win the whole damn thing. An additional guess? We'd be pretty competitive in the NL this year. After all, no less than five of these guys have played for the Mets this year, and they are the class of that alleged league.
With that (and a brief nap) let's play ball!