Tuesday, October 01, 2002


The major league baseball regular season has come to an end and once again I am extremely proud to be a fan of the most fabled franchise in all of sports -- The New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers finished with the league's best record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Tonight, the Yanks set their sights on yet another championship, as they begin the AL Division Series against the surprising Disney-owned Anaheim Angels. Not only did the Yankees have a tremendous season as a team, but second baseman Alfonso Soriano exploded and established himself as a legitimate superstar, falling one home run shy of a 40 homer-40 stolen base season. Soriano was arguably the most valuable fantasy player in the league this season. Unfortunately, he was not on my team. Which brings me to the real reason why I called this press conference.

As co-owner of Yozanger, the troubled IBL franchise, I, along with my partner, endured a lot of heartache this past season. After extensive pre-season preparation and the good fortune of selecting A-Rod with the first pick in the draft, we fully expected Yozanger to challenge for the league title. That did not happen. Our team chemistry was a problem from the very beginning. The team suffered a few injuries, highly touted prospects struggled, and a few of our big guns got off to slow starts. Manny Ramirez was out for a significant stretch during the middle of what could have been an unbelievable year for the slugger, who wound up winning the batting title. Yozanger got sub-par years from Jeff Bagwell and J.D. Drew, both high draft choices and major disappointments. On the subject of disappointment, our scouts were very high on Toby Hall and Jose Ortiz heading into the draft, but both players turned out to be complete duds and sucked a lot of life out of our club. Paul LoDuca and Adam Dunn, two players who may turn out to be great one day, showed promise at various points of the season, but faded at the end, with Dunn in particular going into a horrible slump where he forgot how to hit a baseball. We made a few good pickups along the way, namely Randy Winn, Jacque Jones, and Junior Spivey, but those positive moves did not outnumber the negative ones. Frankly, our team was unbalanced. Our hitting was atrocious and our pitching was fantastic. We won the two most telling pitching categories, earned run average and WHIP ratio (walks plus hits to innings pitched), finished fourth in saves, and tied for fourth in wins. We had a twenty-three game winner in Barry Zito, a twenty game winner in Pedro Martinez, and a nineteen game winner in Roy Halladay. One of those three will assuredly win the Cy Young award. In contrast, the team finished the season fourth in home runs, last in RBI, last in stolen bases, last in average, and sixth in runs. Anemic. Overall, Yozanger ended the season cemented in sixth place out of eight teams, neither challenging for fifth nor being challenged by the bottom two teams.

Looking back on this exasperating season, my first back in the game after a ten-year layoff, I cannot say that I got that much pleasure out of playing. In fact, I think I followed baseball less and less as the season wore on because of the fantasy stress. Despite some questionable rules which led to some heated controversy in the league this season, I think the other owners in the league are a great group of guys. Although some might raise an eyebrow at the commissioner's team finishing in first place, I believe everything was on the up-and-up and I congratulate him on a well-played game. And while I thoroughly enjoyed working with my partner and life-long friend in the day-to-day operations of Yozanger, it is with great regret that I announce my decision to sell my interest in the team and retire from the game. To paraphrase Lou Gehrig, one of the all-time Yankee greats... Today, I consider myself the unluckiest rotisserie baseball owner on the face of the earth.

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