Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NkotB Part Five - Baltimore Dead Homies

For eight seasons, the Wichita Shockers were one of Second City's true flagship franchises. Winning the AL pennant in Season 2 and winning a division championship as recently as a scant two years ago, the Shockers had played to sellout crowds ever since Second City's inception.

However, last season the franchise's previous owner, bigking, well, shocked the Second City world when he sold controlling interest in the Shockers to an ownership group headed by noted restauranteur Mr. Orange. Mr. Orange's story is the stuff of legend. Left for dead after a 1992 raid sponsored by noted gang leader Joe Cabot went terribly awry, miraculously Mr. Orange outlasted Mr. Blond, Mr. Pink and Nice Guy Eddie, and only managed to escape the incident without fatal damage. Determined to avoid a life as a hood, Mr. Orange then proceeded to make his fortune opening the first of many "Crybaby" John Waters themed restaurants throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. When a chance to bring a franchise to his adopted hometown of Baltimore came up, he jumped at the opportunity.

After a protacted lawsuit from the citizens of Wichita, the city, Second City and Mr. Orange settled in the offseason opening up the way for the franchise to back up the trucks and move on out. The Wichita fans are still smarting from the void, and will need a new outlet for their trademark foam fingers.

Fortunately, the cupboard is not bare for the newly-christened Dead Homies. The franchise is coming off of an 89-73 season. Hitting has never been a problem, and with 270 HRs a year ago, the offense will continue to be strong. Camden Yards in Baltimore is one of the stronger hitters parks in the league, so there is not much evidence that numbers will drop off. Additionally Wichita was one of Second City's stronger defensive teams, making a scant 71 errors last season. However, the problem was pitching. Wichita's 4.74 team ERA held the team back from transcendence. While 19 game winner Rico Lecuona returns, the team needs significant improvement in particular from Tommy Wagner, whose 10-14, 6.06 ERA(!) season belies both his talent level and his pay grade. The pitching could give Baltimore GM Divine a real headache.

While critics of Mr. Orange's speculate that the team name Dead Homies is a reference to his preferred methods of giving an employee his/her "unconditional release", Mr. Orange continues to insist that the name is a tribute to his fallen comrades from that fateful day in 1992. In the interest of full disclosure, this author is too frightened to question Mr. Orange much further.

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