It will be the Jersey City Giants vs the San Jose Jedi in the 2008 Union Cup!
— Official ULB (@ULB_Commish) July 13, 2014
Los Angeles Stars Defeat Salt Lake Bees 5-2 in Game 6 and will Face Jersey City Giants in the Federal League Championship Cup!
— Official ULB (@ULB_Commish) July 9, 2014
The 2008 ULB All Star Game Voting Period has ended, and here are the winners for the 14th edition of the ULB Classic.
C Alfonso Delgado PHO
1B Alex Crooks OKC
2B Gerard King LV
3B John McCurdy SJJ
SS Stephen Drew CHA
OF Josh Hamilton MIL
OF Mark Folsom CHA
OF Ichiro Suzuki LV
DH Kenneth Payne PHO
C Andy Burress WAS
1B Eron Morrow POR
2B C.J. Henry NO
3B Mark Schramek JC
SS Mike Peeples SJS
OF Jason Kubel LAS
OF Jason Harrison SL
OF Albert Pujols HOU
DH Jody Gerut JC
Orestes Kindelan has been elected to the ULB Hall of Fame in his 3rd year of eligibility. He was selected with 76.2% of the vote and named on 15 ballots.
Orestes Kindelán represented Cuba in two Olympic Games. In 1992, he hit .344 while playing left field. In the 1994 Baseball World Cup, Kindelan hit .412/.543/1.000 with 6 homers, 14 runs and 16 RBI in 10 games. When the ULB came into exsitence, Kindelan jumped at the chance to make his mark in the new league.
He was selected with the 1st overall pick of the inaugural ULB draft in 1995 by the Hollywood Stars and then General Manager Marlon Trigg Sr. “El Canon de Dos Rios” would make his mark on the early history of the league, hitting .368 with 44 HR and 117 RBI in 1995 for the Stars. He would lead the Stars to the Federal League Cup, but his Stars would fall victim to the New Jersey Giants. Kindelan would hit .235 in that series with just 4 hits, 2 doubles, a single and a home run in five games.
His 1995 season was honored with the Federal League 1995 MVP Award. Kindelan would go on to play in 810 games, all but 32 with the Hollywood/Los Angeles Stars. He was elected to 4 All Star Games, 3 times a Starter (1995, 1996 and 1998) Kindelan debuted in the ULB at the age of 30 and played only 9 seasons. He tallied 218 home runs, 572 runs batted in and 949 hits in his career with the Stars and Phoenix Fire, and has a lifetime batting average of .309 in the ULB.
Kindelan was a ready made star for the fledgling ULB, and his immediate impact was shown early in the league. He was one of the biggest stars to come out of the inaugural draft, and while his career numbers will eventually be eclipsed as the league continues, his early impact on the history of the ULB will not be forgotten.
Trailing Kindelan were Larry Walker (52.4%) and Darryl Brinkley (42.9%).
|Orestes Kindelan’s Career Statistics|
LA Stars' Mike Nannini has thrown three shutouts this season. A 5 hitter on 4/13, a 2 hitter on 4/18 and a 1 hitter against the Jedi on 5/15
— Official ULB (@ULB_Commish) May 26, 2014
The ULB Playoffs will be set is just 8 days, and there is plenty of excitement in three of the four divisions. With the Charlotte Eagles as the lone team that has clinched their division outright, everything is still up for grabs in the rest of the league.
The Federal League East Champonship is suddenly in doubt as the Buffalo Blizzard and New Orleans Pelicans have gained significant ground on the Jersey City Giants in recent weeks. While the Giants will begin the final full week of the season with a 3 game winning streak, they’ll have one game vs the always awful Generals and then face the Salt Lake City Bees at home and finish the season in San Juan against the Storm.
The Pelicans would have to hope to sweep the Blizzard before getting to the Generals for an easy series if they can pull off an improbable comeback to end 2007. The Blizzard face the Storm for 1 game in Puerto Rico then finish the season with 3 games against the Pelicans and Apollos on the road. Jersey City is still the favorite, but as we’ve learned in the past, don’t count out New Orleans. in 1999, New Orleans and Jersey finished the season tied and went on to play a game 155. The Giants won that game and went on to win the Union Cup that season. You can bet that if we get a game 163, the Pelicans would love to get some payback against the Giants.
In the Federal League West, The Mavericks are currently on top, but the Los Angeles Stars are sitting just a half game back and are looking to get their second FL West Division title. It would be the Stars 2nd title and first since 1995. The loser of the FL West Division Title will get the 1st Wild Card, so the Stars are all but assured of a playoff berth. The Bees hold the 2nd Wild Card for now, but the Blizzard are just 2 games back and Pelicans 3 games back in the Chase final Federal League Playoff spot.
The race everyone is talking about is of course the Players League West Wild Card Race. While the Vipers look to have the Division all but locked up, barring a monumental collapse, we have a 3 way race for the final two spots. The Saints hold Wild Card spot #1 for now at 91-63, and the Oklahoma City RedHawks and San Jose Jedi are tied at 91-64 for the 2nd spot.
Perhaps OKC GM Mark Bauer said it best:
“Holy cow. That is nuts”
The Three way race could very well end in a tie for final spot, meaning the league could be looking at multiple Game 163’s to end the season. Holy Cow is an understatement.
The ULB has entered the month of August, and we are now just 57 days away from the end of the 2007 regular season. The trade deadline has passed, and while teams may still be able to acquire players through waivers, rosters appear to be set for the time being. The Players League has one of the tightest races in recent memory right now, with the St. Paul Saints leading the division.
The San Jose Jedi are just 1.5 games behind them in the standings, and the Las Vegas Vipers are 2.5 games behind the Saints. All three of them could be heading to the playoffs, with Oklahoma City a distant dark horse in the playoff race at 5 games back.
Currently, the Charlotte Eagles remain in 1st place in the PL Eastern Division, with the Milwaukee Brewers nipping at their heels, 6 games back. The Eagles just lost 4 time All Star Gus Harrison to a fractured knee that will end his season, and reportedly has Eagles management panicking behind the scenes. The club was active at the trade deadline, adding Tagg Bozied and Robb Nen to their roster.
Both the Brewers and Eagles are aiming for their first playoff spot. The Brewers have not made the playoffs since joining the league in 2001, and the Eagles are looking to become the next expansion team to join the postseason club. Of the four expansion teams in league history, only the Oklahoma City RedHawks have made it to the postseason, leaving the Brewers, Eagles and New Mexico Suns in the dust.
Over in the Federal League, the Jersey City Giants are once again the Kings of the Eastern Division, but the reborn New Orleans Pelicans are taking flight and nipping at their heels at 3.5 games back. The Los Angeles Stars are leading the Western Division. If they both manage to hold on to their divisions, it would mark the first time since 1995 that both the Stars and Giants won their respective divisions. In 1995, they were the New Jersey Giants and the Hollywood Stars, and the Giants would go on to lose the Union Cup to the Vancouver Canucks, who are now the St. Paul Saints.
The Stars have the Salt Lake City Bees looking to make sure this does not happen, and they trail Los Angeles by 3.5 games in the West. Both the Bees and Pelicans are holding on to the Wild Card spots at the moment. The Portland Mavericks and the 2007 Union Cup Champion Buffalo Blizzard are trailing in the Wild Card standings, 3 and 3.5 games back respectively.
With just two months to go, who will be heading to the postseason? Time will tell.
With our second selection of the Union League Baseball First Ten, we had another touch choice, between two future ULB Hall of Famers. In the end, we selected a ULB original over a MLB import, by a somewhat narrow margin.
First Base: Kenneth Payne (Hollywood Stars 1995-2000, Phoenix Fire 2001-2004)
From 1995-2004, Kenneth Payne led the league in hits (1,851), home runs (468), runs batted in (1,206), runs scored (998), extra base hits (768) and total bases (3,505). He hit home runs roughly every 13 trips to the plate, which ranks 5th among all players, but Payne played in more games all of them by a wide margin. (582*, to be precise, actually.)
In fact, Payne sat for just 12 games over the period from 1995-2004. His ability to stay healthy may be a large part of why he’s led the league is so many categories in the first ten years of the ULB’s existence.
Payne was overlooked for a good portion of his career. if not for teammate Orestes Kindelan, it’s likely that Payne would have been the Federal League MVP in 1995. Instead, he had to wait until 2002 to be named the Players League MVP with the Phoenix Fire. Payne also appeared in 8 All Star Games, he wasn’t selected in 1999 or 2001. 1999’s snub is a mystery, as Payne played well, but in 2001, he had a tough time adjusting to the Players League’s (at the time) tougher pitching. By 2002 however, he had them figured out, and led the league with a then record 62 home runs.
Phoenix GM Rich McNeal accounts much of the team’s success to brining Payne to Phoenix.
“We were putting together a contender, but he still needed that one big bat to solidify our batting order. Payne happened to be the biggest free agent at the time. Originally we weren’t going after him. The Yankees had made a big offer to him, and we didn’t want to get into a bidding war with them. But a few weeks into free agency, I decided it was time to go for broke. We ended up giving him 87 million over 6 years, and after that we’ve never looked back.”
One of the hardest things to fathom is why Payne ever hit free agency. Stars GM Ken Mastny has never discussed it publicly, but our feeling is that Payne was tired of not winning championships. Former GM Marlon Trigg Sr. who died in 1999, is likely to blame. Mastny took over a horridly inept team of aging vets, and had trouble building around Payne due to budget constraints and a lackluster fan base.
It should be noted that Payne beat out 1B Jim Thome, who lost out due to not playing as much due to not joining the league until 1997 as well as being injured a few times. Thome also playing a few seasons as a third baseman. All things being equal, Payne would likely still have won, but if we had an 11th man for the First Ten, it would almost definitely go to Thome.
*Wayne Edwards, if you were wondering.
Houston Apollos shortstop Marlon Trigg Jr. is engaged to socialite celebrity Paris Hilton, according to reports from TMZ. The controversial shortstop, who has been known for his wild partying in the past, has been dating Hilton since mid 2005. They met during the time he spent on the DL with a strained shoulder in May.
Los Angeles Stars owner Walter O’Malley is reportedly upset about the engagement, as Hilton is the heiress to her father’s company, Hilton Hotels, which has a sponsorship deal with the Stars.
“We’ll definately be looking at this. We have a deal with Hilton Hotels, but I don’t like the idea of a star player from a rival being associated with the company that owns the naming rights to our stadium.” said O’Malley to reporters outside during the ULB Winter Meetings.
Her father, Richard Hilton has no comment regarding the spat with the Stars, but said that the family liked the Junior Trigg, and that he had gotten along well with Trigg’s father, who died in 1999.
Ken ‘The Punisher’ Payne is now 3 home runs away from becoming the first player to hit 500 home runs in the ULB. While some players have become members of the 500 HR club while playing in both the ULB and the MLB, none have as of yet made it this far while playing solely for Union League Baseball. Payne, in fact, leads all players currently playing in the ULB in HR. He hit 261 of his dingers as a member of the Hollywood Stars from 1995-2000 before joining the Phoenix Fire in 2001, where he has hit 232 out of the park.
Frank Thomas is close to becoming a member of the MLB/ULB 500 HR club, sitting at 495. He recently hit number 248 in the ULB, surpassing his 247 home runs in the MLB. The next closest members are Ken Griffey Jr, who is playing in the first season in the ULB. He has 458, though just a mere 17 in the ULB. Jim Thome is next on the list with 415 home runs to his name. All but 57 came as a member of a Union League Baseball ball club. His 358 home runs ranks 2nd in the history of Union League Baseball. Wayne Edwards (341), Manno Wickey (317) and Ryan Keith (316) round out the top five. Salt Lake City’s Bobby Abreu should soon join the members of the 300 HR club, as he sits at 296 for his career.
The list shows that getting to 500 home runs in the ULB isn’t as easy as it sounds. Wayne Edwards entered the league in 1997, while Thome, Wickey, Keith and Abreu have all been members since 1996. Payne was here from the beginning in 1995. His level of consistency has been astounding, in 7 of his 11 seasons thus far, he played in every game.
The Punisher’s 11 year assault on pitchers could very well end, as he has a option allowin him to test the free agent market after this season, should he choose not to settle for a mere 14.5 million next season. One can only hope that if he does choose to leave Phoenix for greener pastures, that he continues to play in the ULB.