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Vancouver Canucks

Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina elected to ULB Hall of Fame!

The Class of 2015 is here, and for the first time we will have two players entering the ULB Hall of Fame. Both players were considered one of the greatest at their respective positions throughout the early decade and a half of the ULB.

player_9363Mike Mussina (Vancouver Canucks,1996-2003; St. Paul Saints, 2004, Las Vegas Vipers, 2004; New Mexico Suns, 2007)

Elected with 82.3% of Votes, Second Year on Ballot (62.5%, 2010)

Mussina was a dominant force in the early history of the ULB, helping the Vancouver Canucks to reach the Union Cup in 1996 and 1997. Mussina totaled 144 wins in the ULB and added 89 in the MLB for a total of 233 wins in both leagues. He led the ULB in wins in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He amassed 3 Nolan Ryan Trophies (1996, 1998 and 2002) and was elected to the All Star Game 7 times in his 10 years in the ULB.

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Nolan Ryan Award 1996, 1998, 2002 3
All-Star 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 7
Pitcher of the Month 7/97, 9/97, 6/98, 4/00, 6/00, 5/02, 6/04 7

 

player_12902Frank Thomas (Boston Colonials, 1998-2004; Oklahoma City RedHawks, 2005; Phoenix Fire, 2008-2009)

Elected with 76.5% of Votes, First Year on Ballot

The Big Hurt came over to the ULB signing  a 5 year contract with the Colonials in the 1997-1998 offseason worth a then record $102,500,000 million. Gripes about him being overpaid were quickly quieted as he led the league in Home Runs and Runs Batted in his 1998 season. He would go on to hit 243 Home Runs with the Colonials and added 9 more in short seasons plagued by injuries with the Oklahoma City RedHawks and Phoenix Fire. Thomas added a Fielding Bible Award at 1B in 2000 and was elected to the All Star Team four times with the Colonials. Thomas would add another 248 Homers in his MLB career to reach a total of 500 home runs. In his combined ULB and MLB career he had a total of 2,233 hits, and was also an MVP in 1993 and 1994 in the MLB with the Chicago White Sox.

Former San Jose Jedi General Manager Mak Dolnick, now an executive assistant to White Sox Owner Joe Reinsdorf, commented on Thomas’ election.

“He’s the Big Hurt, what else needs to be said?”

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Fielding Bible Award Winners 2000 (1B) 1
All-Star 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 4

Of those not making the cut, Washington’s Larry Walker fell just short of getting ‘The Call’ in his 4th year of eligibility. He appeared on 58.8% of ballots this season. Walker has to be encouraged by the fact that his percentage climbed higher than in 2010, when he had 50% of the vote. Manno Wickey, the New Orleans Gold Sox poster boy for a decade, received 52.9% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, but will have to wait another year before hopefully receiving his call.

2011 ULB Hall of Fame Ballot Results
Pos Player Votes Vote%
SP Mike Mussina 14 82.3
1B Frank Thomas 13 76.5
LF Larry Walker 10 58.8
1B Manno Wickey 9 52.9
SP Roger Clemens 8 47.1
SP Pedro Luis Lazo 7 41.2
C Mike Piazza 7 41.2
DH Ryan Keith 5 29.4
SP Curt Schilling 5 29.4
SP Kevin Brown 4 23.5
C Tyler Houston 4 23.5
CF Andruw Jones 4 23.5
SS Enrique Aguilar 3 17.6
SP Ramiro Mendoza 3 17.6
RF Mark Merchant 3 17.6
SP Andy Pettitte 3 17.6
C Steve Coture 2 11.8
SP Tom Gordon 2 11.8
DH Mark McGwire 2 11.8
2B Roberto Alomar 1 5.9
LF Mark Anthony 1 5.9
LF Brian Apolskis 1 5.9
LF Darryl Brinkley 1 5.9
LF David Diaz 1 5.9
1B Darren Doucette 1 5.9
CF Christopher Garife 1 5.9
RP Daniel Ginder 1 5.9
3B Brian Heigle 1 5.9
SS Howard Hill 1 5.9
RF Tomoaki Kanemoto 1 5.9
SP Brett Lagerblade 1 5.9
C Ken Love 1 5.9
CF Vernon Maxwell 1 5.9
2B Warren Morris 1 5.9
3B Bill Mueller 1 5.9
SP Hideo Nomo 1 5.9
DH Curtis Parham 1 5.9
LF Roberto Singer 1 5.9
LF Dernell Stenson 1 5.9
CF Zack Watts 1 5.9

Union League Baseball First Ten: Ichiro Suzuki

With three outfield spots to choose from, we’ve selected the best position players, regardless of which spots they have manned in the outfield. Naturally, this values left fielders slightly less, but think it’s a fair position to take. Having said that, we come to the first of three outfielders we’ve chosen to honor as the ULB’s First Ten.

Ichiro won the Fielding Bible Award at his position seven times in seven seasons.
Ichiro won the Fielding Bible Award at his position seven times in seven seasons.

Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki (Vancouver Canucks 1998-2003, Las Vegas Vipers 2004)

Ichiro might be one of the best players to come out of Japan in the history of the ULB. He was posted for sale by the Nippon Professional Baseball in the 1997-1998 offseason, and former Vancouver Canucks GM Matthew Monagle pounced on the chance to secure himself a sure thing Fielding Bible Award winning caliber player.

When asked about the Star youngster being offered by the Orix Blue Wave, Monagle simply exclaimed “He’s Mine!” and dashed off to the Canucks offices to make a 6 year,  $140,670,000 offer (On to of the $9 Million Posting Fee he paid to the Blue Wave, mind you.) This combined with the Addition of Mike Mussina, helped propel the Canucks to a… er… second place finish in from 1998 to 2000. Monagle would find himself addicted to painkillers and antacids after the 1998 season, and made a quiet exit from the league.*

Ichiro meanwhile would proceed to win the 1998 Players League Rookie of the Year Award while batting .352.  In 2000, he would win the Players League MVP Award while batting .379 with 224 hits. He was named an All Star seven times, and was elected as a starter in very year thanks to his loyal Japanese and Canadian fans. He would also go on to win the Fielding Bible award at his position (right field) every year as well.

From 1998 to 2004, Ichiro batted .358 with 1521 hits, 233 doubles, 29 triples, 102 home runs, 600 runs batted in,  865 runs scored, 671 walks, and 257 stolen bases. He led the entire league in Value over Replacement Player (VoRP) with a score of 588.6, narrowly beating out Fellow First Ten Award Winner Kenneth Payne who had a score of 583.2.

Ichiro would be unable to come to an agreement with the financially crippled Canucks organization who moved to St. Paul and became the Saints in 2004 and would go on to sign a new deal with the Las Vegas Vipers. He helped guide the previously hapless Vipers to their first ever Playoff appearance, and batted .314 in the postseason, in which they would be knocked out the Divisional Cup by the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Ichiro’s spectacular defense in right field and his ability to drive pitchers and catchers insane net him a spot in the ULB’s First Ten.

*Monagle now runs an ice fishing business in Anchorage. He has several pet Reindeer.

Canucks to Abandon Canada

The Vancouver Canucks are no more. After months of being unable to agree to a new deal to stay at B.C. Place Stadium, Jim Pattison Jr has gotten approval to move the team. Fay Vincent agreed to the terms, and the Canucks will send $17,000,000 to purchase the St. Paul Saints minor league team from the Boston Colonials.

“This isn’t a situation we wanted to be in, but it’s the reality we face. San Antonio was our second choice, but unfortunately, the Texas Rangers have purchased the stadium’s rights from the city to install a minor league team there. St. Paul has been a good city for the Saints, and we recognized  the passion the fans there give them. It seemed a good fit.” said Pattison.

Pattison Jr. also announced that the partnership group that owns the Saints franchise would become part of the new ownership group, and that Pattison would place Mike Veeck as the new figurehead of the franchise.

“I’m excited to be a part of this.” said Veeck. “Bringing the Saints to the Big League level has been a dream of mine. To finally see it happen is quite possibly the best thing ever to happen to me in the history of everything.”

British Columbia to Canucks: NO DEAL

The Vancouver Canucks have been struggling to come to an agreement with BC Place Stadium and the Province of British Columbia on a new contract. Under the old terms, the Canucks paid a relatively modest upkeep fee on the facility while sharing minimal profits. The Province wants the Canucks to agree to a new deal that would pay the Province more of the money generated by the team, which Canucks owner Jim Pattison Jr. says would harm the team’s ability to compete.

“We simply cannot afford to agree to the Province’s terms at this time. We’re trying to come to a mutually agreement contract for the use of BC Place Stadium, but right now, we’re not close to a deal.”

The Canucks were at one time the darlings of Canada, winning the first two Union Cup championships, and are credited with revitalizing interest in baseball in Canada at a time when rival franchises the Expos and Blue Jays saw a marked decrease in fan interest due to the 1994 MLB Strike that saw the Expos chances at postseason glory ended prematurely. But with three MLB franchises decreasing interest in the on field product of the Canucks, despite stars like Mike Mussina, Ichiro Suzuki and the emergence this season of rookie outfielder Shannon Carter. The Canucks were unable to afford to sign Ichiro to an extension, and fans are worried that Ace Mike Mussina may be next to leave.

“It’s a tough time for the Canucks, there is no doubt about that.” said Fay Vincent, commissioner of the ULB. “But we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the start of the season.”

Pattison was not quite so hopeful, saying that “We’re keeping all options open right now, including relocation. I’ve fielded calls from a few cities that would love to have us. If the government of the Province of British Columbia doesn’t want us, well, it will be the city of Vancouver’s loss. We want to stay. They’re the ones who are telling us to get out. I feel bad for the fans most of all. We’ve been here for 9 years. We’ve provided this city with two Championships, and we are being treated like dirt.”

ULB Trade Deadline Approaches

Could OKC's Jose Vidro be moved before deadline?
Could OKC’s Jose Vidro be moved before deadline?

The ULB’s Trade Deadline is now just over a month away. While the season has already seen some trade activity, with Adam Dunn moving to the Apollos from division rival Boston, and Matt White traded to Columbus, there could still be a blockbuster or two in the works. Oklahoma City has made it known that they would consider trading All Star third baseman Jose Vidro for the right price. Teams like Boston could be convinced to move parts like Curt Schilling and Bobby Abreu, as they move into an obvious rebuilding mode.

The Los Angeles Stars have some players on the books that might not be returning in 2004, like third baseman Brian Heigle, Wilson Alvarez and former MVP Orestes Kindelan. Kindelan might be a shell of his former self, but he’s made it known that he would like a chance at winning the Union Cup, even if it means riding the bench.

Another player that could attract serios attention is the Washington Generals’ Larry Walker. Walker has been moved to the DH role for the Generals, but he is 36 now and has two years remaining on his contract. The Generals have a lot of pitching talent coming up through the minors to join their young staff, but one wonders if Walker will still be part of the plans when it finally all starts to come together.

And then there is Vancouver. The Canucks have a trio of stars in Mike Mussina, Ichiro Suzuki and Shannon Carter on their books. Ichiro is in his walk year. Mussina has one more year left on his contract. Shannon Carter is still under team control for two more seasons. And let’s not forget Darryl Brinkley and Angel Delgado who are both in their walk years as well. On the whole, the Canucks remain a mystery, with much of the speculation being on if they can resign Ichiro to a new deal. If that is not a possibility  look for them to maybe conduct a firesale in the coming month.

Thome, Edmonds, Bonds Headline 2002 Trade Deadline Talks

Thome is hitting .282 with 23 HR this season

 

The ULB enters into the final 4 weeks before the Trade Deadline today, and it could be an interested few weeks. The San Jose Jedi have put 1B/DH Jim Thome on the trade block, as well as OF Haywood Cook, as they are likely considering their season all but over. The Oklahoma City RedHawks continue to shop OF Jim Edmonds as they continue to build for the future. The Apollos were looking to deal OF Barry Bonds early in the season, but one has to wonder if they would still consider moving him considering they are now in the thick of things in the PL East.

The buyers this season would appear to be the Crickets, Apollos, Fire and Canucks in the Players League, with Milwaukee a question mark. In the Federal League, the Gold Sox and Generals are neck and neck, and the DireWolves lead the Pioneers by 3 games. The Giants could be considered a dark horse, and one wonders if Ryan Huff can survive another offseason without a championship with the Donald breathing down his neck.

2002 ULB All Star Game Starters Revealed

The 2002 ULB ASG will be played in Washington, DC on the 4th of July.

The starters for the 2002 ULB All Star Game have been revealed. The game will take place July 4th, 2002 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

 

Federal League


DH Warren Morris (NO)*

C Mark Osbourne (HOL)

1B Manno Wickey (NO)

2B Mike Peeples (SA)

3B Eric Chavez (SA)

SS Oscar Campos (SLC)

OF Chris Sawyer (SA)

OF Andruw Jones (SA)*

OF Gary Sheffield (SLC)

SP Kris Benson (BUF)

RP Kevin Smith (JC)
Players League

DH Barry Bonds (HOU)

C A.J. Pierzynski (COL)

1B Kenneth Payne (PHO)

2B D’Angelo Jimenez (BOS)

3B Aubrey Huff (LV)

SS Jun Yamada (COL)

OF Shannon Carter (VAN)

OF Jason Harrison (COL)

OF Ichiro Suzuki (VAN)

SP Mike Mussina (VAN)

RP Eric Glaser (PHO)
* Injured, Will Not Play

Players League 2002 All Star Game Voting Update #2

The 2002 ULB ASG will be played in Washington, DC on the 4th of July.

The 2002 ULB All Star Game is approaching, and less than a week remains to vote for Starters. While the Federal League has several races that are tight, the Players League features a few run away contests. All but locked in are Houston’s Barry Bonds at DH and Phoenix’s Kenneth Payne at 1B. The Vipers’ Aubrey Huff is also running away from the pack at 3B. The closest races are catcher, with Pierzynski currently holding off San Jose’s Tyler Houston and Oklahoma City’s Michael Barrett. Brooklyn’s Wayne Edwards is running a close 4th in the outfield contest, with Jim Edmonds trailing him by a few votes. The biggest race appears to be Starting Pitcher, where Mike Mussina has the slimmest of leads over Phoenix’s Andy Yount, and Milwaukee’s Dan Guehne who is 11-0 on the season now. Pedro Luis Lazo and Curt Schilling are also in the thick of it, but one wonders what kind of perfect storm it would take for one of them to leap over the pack. In the Reliever standings, the Fire’s Eric Glaser remains on top, with Houston’s Dave Gil, Vancouver’s duo of Chuck Crowder and Trever Miller and the Jedi’s Mike Gunderson hot on his heels.

Current Leaders:

DH Barry Bonds (HOU)

C A.J. Pierzynski (COL)

1B Kenneth Payne (PHO)

2B D’Angelo Jimenez (BOS)

3B Aubrey Huff (LV)

SS Jun Yamada (COL)

OF Shannon Carter (VAN)

OF Jason Harrison (COL)

OF Ichiro Suzuki (VAN)

SP Mike Mussina (VAN)

RP Eric Glaser (PHO)

Player’s League All Star Game Voting Update

The 2002 ULB ASG will be played in Washington, DC on the 4th of July.

Voting Leaders for the 2002 ULB All Star Game were released today. Here are the current results for the Player’s League.

Players League:

DH Barry Bonds (HOU)

C A.J. Pierzynski (COL)

1B Kenneth Payne (PHO)

2B D’Angelo Jimenez (BOS)

3B Aubrey Huff (LV)

SS Jun Yamada (COL)

OF Shannon Carter (VAN)

OF Jason Harrison (COL)

OF Ichiro Suzuki (VAN)

SP Mike Mussina (VAN)

RP Dave Gil (HOU)

The Moose is Back

Mike Mussina in back in Top Form in 2002

A year and a half ago, it looked like one of the best pitchers to play in the ULB’s short history might have had his career cut short. Mike Mussina was a big part of Vancouver’s Cup run in 1996, has 7 ASG apperances (3 starts) In 1999, he blew out his knee to begin the season, and was sidelined for three months. That was the beginning of his problems.

“I know they said my knee was fine after the rehab, but mentally I think I tried to baby it. The results weren’t horrible, but I didn’t have the same stuff. My sinker didn’t sink quite the same way it used to, and my fastball was weaker. Like 89, 90 tops.”

Mussina went 9-6 in 16 starts in 1999, and worked hard in the offseason. Harder than he ever had before in his career, by his own account.

“I wanted to get back in top shape, my knee felt better, but by spring training, my shoulder was getting tight after pitching. I didn’t feel bad when I got warmed up and out out to the mound, but I wasn’t feeling really good by the ASG. I still pitched an inning, but I talked to a few of the guys, and the concensus was that I should get my shoulder and my elbow looked at.”

Mussina got back to Vancouver after the break, and put his concerns aside.

“I was a little scared. Mostly because stuff like Tommy John can put you out for a year, and year and a half.”

By the end of July however, Mussina knew he was heading for the disabled list.

“I think I came out the mound in Portland, and just told the boss he shoulder felt like it was on fire. I ccouldn’t deal with it anymore. It just hurt all the time. I knew I had to say something.”

The result was a torn labrum in Mussina’s shoulder, and 10 months of rest after the surgery.

“Last season, I came back, and it took me a little while to get going. By the end of the season, I felt good. Not great, but good. During the offseason, I went back to my normal routine, and I was a little shocked when I started throwing. I felt good. Like really good. I admit now, that I had been worried for about 2 years now that I would never get back to my old self. I came off the mound after that Spring Training game and I admit, I had a few tears of joy.”

Mussina has been dominating the competition since the start of the 2002 season. He is now 8-0 in 10 starts and has has held teams to under 3  earned runs in all but one of his starts. In that start he allowed 3 earned runs.