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posted by Joe Lawrence


indiansv2royalsv202
Tribe to Meet One Ugly Welcoming Committee
Royals (0-0) vs. Indians (0-0), Monday May 2nd – 6:05pm Eagan, MN

Chief Wahoo and his boys would likely find a more hospitable greeting if they were dumped off in the remote parts of New Guinea and surrounded by angry, spear-chucking natives.

Instead, they get the lucky draw of being initiated into the HRL via two of the league's most dominant pitchers; Dick Cota and Truck Moriarty. Last year, these two alpha-hurlers combined for an average 10+ strikeouts per game, and limited opposing hitters to a paltry .175 BA against.  Boy-oh-boy, doesn't that just sound like a barrel of monkeys?

No one knows what kind of game the Indians can bring though, and grabbing even a split on opening day against the Kings would certainly put a statement out to the rest of the league not to take these guys too lightly.  At the very least, it sounds like the Indians enjoy drinking, which is always an effective tool to drown out opposing egos and offset the occasional, unfortunate, wiffle spanking (just on the off chance one occurs).

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Royals: Josh "Luis/Dick" Cota
2004: 9-4, 2.24 ERA, 9.18 K/6, 1.00 WHIP

–Indians: Tim "Molgs" Molgren
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–Royals: Pat "Truck" Moriarty
2004: 9-3, 1.33 ERA, 11.26 K/6, 0.80 WHIP

–Indians: Todd "T-Bag" Planting
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
Royals:
Angela Granneman – Is this first woman of the HRL:TC akin to Crystl Bustos??  The Royals may be hoping for exactly that type of offensive production from the new starlet.

Indians: Molgs – Word from the California penal league is that this kid's a scrapper. An early bench clearing brawl may be just what the doctor ordered to keep Cota in check.

Quotable:
"I guess I'll leave the trash talking to [Cota], I've never been one to do much of that…" – Truck, Royals




tigersv202senators02
Senators Already Eying the Prize?
Senators (0-0) vs. Tigers (0-0), Monday May 2nd – 6:05pm Eagan, MN

If the Tigers needed any locker room motivation to get pumped up for opening day, the Senators have been more than happy to oblige.  Rookie youngster Alex Valen is already looking forward to his Week 3 showdown against the Eastern AL powerhouse Royals, basically scoffing at any challenge that the Tigs or Tribe may provide.  The 20-year old right hander hasn't backed down from anyone this spring, and appears to be chomping at the bit to prove to the Commish that the way to the Eagan crown has to come through the Senators.

He may have a point, as Alex and fellow starter Josh Carroll have demonstrated some effective stuff on the mound this preseason. But, if they're not careful, they could find themselves at the mercy of an athletic Tigers squad that boasts an impressive collegiate body of work. A couple Division I pitchers, a minor league outfielder, and a football jock all have the Tigs looking pretty darn intimidating on paper….if that translates into on-the-field skills, these Tigers could seriously be the best of the expansion crop.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Senators: Alex "lil' britches" Valen
2004: N/A

–Tigers: Ted "Doc" Goldberg
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–Senators: Josh "Ten" Carroll
2004: N/A

–Tigers: Eric "Swede" Seiberlich
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
Senators
: 911 – The 2004 Sultan of Suck heads up this pack of feisty newbies… is Jamie going to have a turnaround type season, or is he looking to stay atop the '05 SOS voting ballot?

Tigers: Sean Parnell – At 6'4", 255lbs, the ol' banana bat must look like a toothpick in this guy's hands. This righty could have a huge day playing with a short porch in left.

Quotable:
"I'll start the first game. My thinking is that I should start the first game so I'm available (for the third week) against the Royals" – Alex Valen, Senators




exposv304cubs02
High Xpectations
Cubs (0-0) vs. Expos (0-0), Monday May 2nd – 6:05pm Eagan, MN

The Expos have been the unanimous preseason favorites to claim the Eastern NL pennant, and many analysts even have them as the team to win it all this season… and why not? The core of this team certainly proved their worth last time around. The Ski boys and Christian are downright deadly with the bats, and posted a combined .305 batting average in 2004 and averaged going deep at least twice a game. 

J-Ski will attempt to get the X off on the right foot, as he takes the hill in the first stanza of the 2 game set.  He was stellar on the mound last regular season, but a stumble in the first round of the playoffs led to an early exit. However, that windy September afternoon is ancient history now, and any rust in his right arm will likely be shaken off quickly come next Monday night.

Their opening day opponents are more of a mystery. The Cubbies enter the HRL scene with some hoopla behind them (Fedawg talks a sweet game), but with few faces to match their names. If they can pull an early upset against the mighty X… the Cubs won't be living in anonymity for long.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Cubs: Unknown
2004: N/A

–Expos: Jamie "J-Ski" Nowaczewski
2004: 7-3, 2.30 ERA, 6.00 K/6, 1.15 WHIP

Game 2:
–Cubs: Unknown
2004: N/A

–Expos: Christian Brandt
2004: 5-3, 3.41 ERA, 5.05 K/6, 1.45 WHIP

Players to watch:
Cubs
: Gusto – His Harry Caray impersonations are worth the price of admission.

Expos: Munson – The X's rookies may ultimately determine if this team lives up to its hype. If the Nowaczewski wiffle blood flows through this cousin's veins, they have a legitimate shot at the cup.

Quotable:
"It is simple. I am not complex. I am a nice guy. I wasn't gifted with that trash talking gene. So I simply kick ass nicely." – M-Ski, Expos




orioles02twinsv202
Trouble in Twins' Town
Twins (0-0) vs. Orioles (0-0), Monday May 2nd – 6:05pm Hopkins, MN

The 2004 champs seemed poised to make another run for The Cup this season, but after all the off-the-field drama during the past few weeks, playing ball in September is probably the furthest thing from their minds.  The sudden and unexpected retirement of Twins' all-star Jim Edgar leaves the team's future suddenly shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty.  But these guys have had their backs against the wall before. After starting last season 3-0, they proceeded to drop the next 6 games, and found themselves near the bottom of the HRL. They continued to show heart, and battled back to finish near .500 and eventually went on to win the inaugural title.

In his first start of 2005, K-Mart will try to carry over his post season furry on the mound.  Last fall, he posted an obscene 0.69 ERA through 6 playoff games to close out play. The Twinks send him up against another rookie organization in the form of the newly composed Orioles.

As for the O's?  Who knows.  A relative of the Padres' Kelly Pieklo heads up the GM post.  So, at the very least, the Twins can expect some fancy base coaching along the way.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Twins: Andy "K-Mart" Gillund
2004: 4-3, 3.97 ERA, 5.56 K/6, 1.37 WHIP

–Orioles: DJ Tucci
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–Twins: Matt "Bally" Balster
2004: N/A

–Orioles: Adam Wallraff
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
Twins:
Nelson – Without Edgar, Nick's going to have to provide the bulk of the run scoring opportunities for the Twins. Can he duplicate his gaudy 2004, .425 OB%??

Orioles: Conor Toohey – Funny name = Early Fun-star favorite.

Quotable:
"What?!? Nobody cares about the Twins?? NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE TWINS!?!? They better [expletive] care about the Twins!!" – K-Mart, Twins




redsox02athletics05
Who the Heck are These Guys!?
Athletics (0-0) vs. Red Sox (0-0), Monday May 2nd – 6:05pm Hopkins, MN

A couple of new bloods square off to start the season in the Western AL, as the Red Sox take on a completely revamped 2005 A's squad. No more Pirate, no more Mathis…but ex-Yank Dave Gustafson joins the Hall brothers (no relation) to restore some prestige to the Athletics organization. 

Gus will take the rock for the A's in the first game of the double header, and a rookie club couldn't hope for a more capable pitcher on opening night. Although he was overshadowed by former teammate Dickey Cota last season, Gus has primetime stuff, and should give the Sox all they can handle in their first HRL appearance.

The Sox were one of the first teams to be included in the 2005 expansion, which shows their devotion to the league, but their players and talent level are almost completely unbeknownst to the HRL. Low expectations aren't necessarily a bad thing though, and getting a couple Ws in the win column would loudly announce this team's arrival to the show.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–A's: Dave "Gus" Gustafson
2004: 2-2, 3.79 ERA, 7.82 K/6, 1.03 WHIP

–Red Sox: Rian "The Man" Heaslip
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–A's: Jason Hall
2004: N/A

–Red Sox: "Dirty Steve" Novak
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
A's: Brian Henderson – Brother to Brewers' slugger Paul Hendi, Brian had reconstructive knee surgery in the off-season. He's not up to full speed yet, but the bigger question is whether or not he shares his brother's prowess at the plate?

Red Sox: Rian Heaslip – The Man has been creeping around the HRL message board since New Years… everyone's a little curious to find out who exactly this dude is.

Quotable:
"We have a couple guys who you shouldn't leave your girlfriends and wives alone with. That's how the Red Sox do it." – The Man, Red Sox




metsv202cardinalsv202
Birds Hope to Soar in HRL Debut
Cardinals (0-0) vs. Mets (0-0), Thursday May 5th – 6:05pm Eagan, MN

The Cardinals may officially be listed as an expansion team this season, but it sure does seem like these guys have been playing in the HRL for years. With more wiffle experience than most of the vets combined, the Steves and Demetrius (all hovering just over 40 years old), are out to prove that their game has aged like a fine bottle of wine.

Steve 2 gets the opening day nod for the Cards, but the manager probably couldn't have gone wrong with anyone on the staff.  Kennedy will go up against Big Bob n' the Mets in Game 1 of the series, while lefty Demetrius Matthews, armed with his wicked hook, will have clean up duty during the nightcap.

The Mets, another new club in the East, seemed to struggle a little bit during spring training.  But the grapefruit league is the right spot to work out any kinks, and the old cliché that everyone starts the season off undefeated certainly holds true in this case.  The M-E-T-S, Mets! Mets! Mets! will try to pull a "not so fast" against their highly touted divisional opponents on Thursday night.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Cards:  Steve "Steve 2" Kennedy
2004: N/A

–Mets: Bob "Big Bob" McDonough
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–Cards: Demetrius Mathews
2004: N/A

–Mets: Tony "TT" Thompson
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
Cardinals:
Demetrius – The biggest hype coming out of the Monday night Spring Training sessions. Demetrius is certainly a 5 tool player, but will he be able to transition his blistering spring into the regular season?

Mets: Tony Thompson – The Mets appear to have a southpaw of their own to offset Matthews.  A switch hitter, with respectable size (6'-215lb), TT may turn out to be an ace in the hole for this unproven club.

Quotable:
"And just wait until you see my curve! Or Steve Too's curve! Or D-Town's curve! Go Cards!!" – Steve 1, Cards




padres02dodgers02
Ex-Phil Fans Expect More than just Name Change
Dodgers (0-0) vs. Padres (0-0), Thursday May 5th – 6:05pm Hopkins, MN

After packing up and heading west, the Phillies-turned-Padres are trying to put their 2004 last place finish behind them.  Sporting new duds, adding a big name free agent, and renewing their focus with some tight knit camaraderie; the Pads are shooting to go from worst to first in their division. However, they kick off the new season against an upstart Dodger clan that isn't willing to roll over that easily.

The Dodgers decided to go with Brian Klein to attempt to put the kibosh on an early Pads' rise to glory.  Recently, "Dr. K" has been chastised by some of the Padres finest for his nickname lacking originality. At the end of the day though, the Papas are likely to be more concerned with his stuff on the mound, rather than eloquent monikers.

Though currently unannounced, Vegas has odds on some combination of Nine & Shirls hurling for the Padres during the opener. Word on the street is that Nine's had tremendous off-season workouts and is poised for breakout greatness on the hill. If so, the Dodge-squad may have to be on the top of their game to challenge the Padres' menacing starting rotation.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Dodgers: Brian "Dr. K" Klein
2004: N/A

–Padres: Unknown
2004: N/A

Game 2:
–Dodgers: Tom "Hobbes" Woldum
2004: N/A

–Padres: Unknown
2004: N/A

Players to watch:
Dodgers:
Dave "Cook" Silverstein – Good teams start up front with good managing.  If Cook is the heart and soul of this lunchbox squad, their ultimate success in the big leagues falls squarely on his shoulders.

Padres: Westy – After defecting from the Brewers, West has been billed to be the spark that this club needs. He's notorious for playing some of his best ball early in the season, and another fast start out of the gate would certainly give the Pads the boost they're looking for.

Quotable:
"I really think we need more "K" names. It's very clever. I think I might change mine to K-Elly." – Peeks, Padres




brewersv202braves02
Old School Foes set to Rumble
Braves (0-0) vs. Brewers (0-0), Thursday May 5th – 6:05pm Hopkins, MN

During the first half of 2004, these two teams were in a heated battle for NL supremacy.  But after the All-Star break the Brewers and Braves headed in completely opposite directions.  As the Braves reeled off 13 wins in a row en route to the #1 overall seed, the struggling Crew dropped 7 of its last 8 match-ups, limped into the playoffs, and barely escaped the HRL cellar.  Both teams are now back for 2005, each having made some personnel moves, and are looking once again for top bragging rights… this time in the Western NL.

The starting pitchers for each squad are still unofficial, but it's highly doubtful that the Braves will deviate from what has worked so well for them in the past. Rocket and Sanchez, (or Sanchez and Rocket), will try to pick things up right where they left off in 2004. It makes sense to do so, as the Braves' dynamic duo is a combined 3-1 lifetime against the Brewers, with an impressive  1.75 ERA.

On the other side of the diamond, the Crew will try to reestablish some of the magic they displayed during last year's playoff run, where they surprised many folks by falling just one game short of challenging for The Cup.  Injuries pending, the Brewers expect to send Costa and Hendi to try and tame the lethal Braves' bats this first time around.

Pitching Match-ups:
Game 1:
–Braves: Sean "Rocket" Pabon
2004: 9-3, 3.08 ERA, 5.00 K/6, 1.21 WHIP

–Brewers: Ted "Costa" Spilseth
2004: 0-0, 3.34 ERA, 5.15 K/6, 1.50 WHIP

Game 2:
–Braves: Nick "Sanchez" Consoer
2004: 10-4, 2.99 ERA, 5.98 K/6, 1.21 WHIP

–Brewers: Paul "Hendi" Henderson
2004: 3-11, 5.51 ERA, 4.23 K/6, 1.53 WHIP

Players to watch:
Braves:
Chops – Last year's MVP is certainly one of the best all around batters in the league.  However, he starts his repeat run for the Slammer Award against a team that held him to a pedestrian .222 batting average in 2004.

Brewers: Hendi – A week ago, Henderson broke his big toe after falling off a ladder.  He's listed as Probable (0.85%) for Thursday, but how the injury will affect him still remains to be seen.

Quotable:
"Well if my teammate Cheezy feels that way about crushing everyone... I say screw it, Braves are going undefeated!!!." – Rocket, Braves

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