Here are the 2019 pre-season rankings, as determined by Nightmare.  If you don’t like them, or I misquoted a stat, who cares. 

  1. RaysThe back-to-back champions didn’t return any of my off-season calls, emails, texts, Facebook messages… so screw them, I didn’t want to be a Biscuit anyways… instead they “added” TwoBat (a guy who played 34 games for them last year)?  Even with him holding them back, they’ll stay on top of the rankings for a while… or at least until they lose a series.  Player to watch:  As teams, the Orioles hit 21 HRs, the Rockies hit 34, and the Giants hit 36…  Mippey5 had 39, and I don’t even think he’s their best hitter. 
  1. DodgersThis one hurts.  I don’t think that any team that can’t legally buy beer should be allowed in the league, let alone represent a city in the World Series… but they’re here, and my pick to return to the World Series for Eagan.  They added Shandy, he’s good and all, but just like more icing on an already iced cake.  Player to watch: Each year, the Dodgers have had a guy take a big step talent-wise.  Assuming this guy can find time for wiffleball between trips to the gym, I think this will be the year of Fez.
  1. Mets.  If any other team lost Shirls, they’d plummet in my rankings, but the Mets went and added Webby.  So they aren’t plummeting, they’re staying right on top where I think they’ll stay for quite some time.  Honestly, it seems wrong to rank a team with JC, Webby, Hondo, and Taco this low… but the Dodgers and Rays… so, number 3.  Also, there’s no way I’m starting these rankings with two Hopkins teams on top.  Player to watch:  If the Mets are going to make it to the World Series, it will all boil down to…. Web….. Gem’s wife.  Obviously the more Webby shows up, the better the Mets will be.  And how often he shows up, realistically, is up to Mrs. Webby.
  1. RedsSeuss and Hardball, the best pitching duo since… 2015.  The last time they pitched together.  I think this year the Reds get back to “Reds wiffleball,” which means a lot of low scoring, batting average ruining games.  It will not be pleasant for opposing teams.  Player to watch: The Reds need to find new offense… Who is going to step up and hit 20+ bombs for the Reds this year?  My bet is on Handsome Matty.
  1. MarlinsHow highly could I rate my own team without being too obviously biased?  That’s right, number 5.  Mippey5 speculated the Marlins could be very scary in the playoffs, “if they can make it there.”  He may have forgotten the Marlins made it last year and knocked off the Reds.  Since then, they’ve added pitching to an already very good (and underrated) offense.  Player to watch: A top 5 hitter in every category that matters, Box had his season snipped short last year. Look for the HRL’s nicest guy to have another great season.
  1. YankeesThe Hardball era is over.  He’s gone and all that’s left is a line-up full of some of the toughest outs in the HRL and a very respectable pitching rotation.  The Yankees have been finding ways to win 25+ games each season since a lot of the league was still in high school, and I think they’ll continue their winning ways.  I expect this to be the tightest division in Eagan and look forward to a lot of great… good games.  Player to watch: Many of us have been frustrated by the guy making ridiculous plays in the field every week, but I don’t think Rocky gets enough respect for his hitting.  Sneaky good average and on-base percentages the past few years, I expect this young guy to continue his success.
  1. Rubber Ducks.  These new guys made the playoffs last year, winning 28 games and Hopkins East. That was shocking news to me, these guys flew under my radar for sure.  Can they keep it up?  I have no idea because I hardly knew they existed.  I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt though because it’s Hopkins and I really don’t care to put too much thought into that side of town.  Player to watch: Literally the only dude I can name on the team is Stache, and he loves turkey, so watch him.
  1. Americans.  These guys made the playoffs last year?  And apparently beat the Rays.  That says something.  I maybe don’t know this team that well, but I can respect that… I guess.  All that being said, if Hopkins is as good as some people think, they’ve got a long road ahead of them if they want to repeat their 2018 success.  Player to watch: He looks like a nice young man, and I love the nickname Dr. Dipshiz.
  1. Braves.  I’m not sure how these guys were .500 last year.  This is a very good team, maybe they’re having trouble keeping up with the youth movement?  I’m not sure, but ranking them this low seems… weird.  Obviously, if they finish .500 or worse this year, it’s because of Vlade.  Player to watch: Every team needs a spark, that unspoken element that makes a team greater than the sum of its parts.  I expect the former Hopkins batting champ, Vlade, to capture the magic for the Braves… Seriously though, Chops, he could reach career HR 400 and RBI 1000 this year.  That’s awesome.
  1. TwinsWhat a rag tag group we have here.  Just a fine collection of… male specimens.  What can I say about these guys that hasn’t already been said?  Player to watch:  I’m not trying to make a prediction here, but…. Al was on the White Sox, they folded.  Then he was a BJ.  They folded.  I’m praying he stops cursing teams and the Twins live to play another season.
  1. Kardinals.  This team has made the World Series more recently than the Reds, Yankees, and Marlins (the Eagan teams I’ve ranked higher).  I mention that only because if I don’t, Tootin’ will.  These guys can hit pretty well, but I’m worried even they can’t hit enough HRs to make up for a lack of pitching.  Luckily they brought in… Eddie Bauer.  Player to watch:  This guy is a triple threat: he drinks, he drinks, and he hits bombs.  Tootin’ is a favorite of mine, and I expect him to lead the Kards to another unpredictable season.
  1. H8Rs aka the RoughRiders?  Wow…. Okay.  Anyways, it’s H8R and Hjal, that’s a pretty good start to any team.  Especially if they keep a tight/small roster.  Those two are really dangerous when they get up to bat twenty times per night.  I’m excited to see Hjal after he’s been back a year.  The guy is amazeballs when he’s on.  Did Seuss ever give him his shorts (i.e. his mojo) back?  Half the league won’t even know what that is about… too bad.  Player to watch:  I have no inside info, but… Jagr.  At least I really hope so.
  1. Lugnuts.  Nine and Shirls are the only two on the roster, how am I supposed to work with that?  Just kidding, Shirls is worth 8-10 wins on his own.  I’ve admired this guy on and off the rink awhile and have confidence he’ll put together a decent crew.  Besides that, we’re really in “wild card” territory now.  That being said, I could do without his music so I kind of hope I don’t see him too often.  Player to watch:  Jeez, I have two options, however will I decide…. Shirls has been putting up great numbers for a long time.  He will continue to do so.
  1. WhalersSo, as far as I can tell, this is the same Bees team from last year?  Pretty vanilla on paper, but a lot of guys who’ve been playing a long time.  That’s interesting to me because if/when guys with this sort of experience try to play… good things can happen.  This team hit over .340 last year.  Wow!  Watch out or you’ll get stung, am I right… I know that joke is a year late, but I like it.  Player to watch: I think there are about five guys in the league who have a legit chance to hit 40 bombs in 2019.  And Nightmare saaaaaaays, Sanchez is on the list.  And I hope he does.
  1. MarinersI’m sick of the word, “beah.”  I think the “seamen” joke is boring.  It’s great to see Squirrel back on two legs.  I immediately don’t care for players with nicknames like, “GOAT” or “The Natural.”  Those are literally the only thoughts I have on the Mariners at this time.  Player to watch: This was a really hard choice because I’ve been writing this a long time and I’m starting not to care… but I’m going to go with my bounce-back player of the choice, Squirrel.  I like this kid and really hope he has a good (not great) year.  
  1. Giants.  Mippey says, “The Giants have one of the best pitching rotations in the league.”  I personally don’t see it… but Mippey actually cares about Hopkins and definitely has a better eye for talent than I do.  So, okay, they can pitch.  Mippey and I agree though, that they’ll struggle creating runs.  And you can’t win if you can’t score… Oh wait, you can because we jack off in public.  So maybe that’s great news for the Gigantes…. Player to watch:  Since May 1, 2008 (my first game vs. the Giants), I’ve wondered, “Is Dr. K really a doctor?”  Some years, he strikes me as very doctorly.  Other years, he does not.  At this point, it has been over a decade, and the answer isn't important.
  1. Pirates.  Mippey says, “The Pirates are a weird team that could beat the Reds…”  Let’s not be silly.  The Pirates usually hover around 10-12 wins, and without any major additions in the off season, I expect they’ll end up right around that again in 2019.  It looks like they did trim their roster though… so maybe addition by subtraction?  I dunno what T-Mac was thinking, but I hope it works out.  Player to watch: He had a down year last year, but I expect T-Mac to put up solid numbers in 2019.
  1. BearsThe Bears beat the Rays last year, and they beat the Reds the season before that.  Only one other team (Yankees) has defeated the defending champions in each of the past two seasons… That’s impressive, and a reminder not to sleep on the Bears.  Player to watch: The complete list of pitchers who beat the Rays last year: Seuss, Taco, Hardball and… the Professor.  Keep your eye on this guy, he’s trouble on the mound.
  1. A’s.  If you hadn’t heard, the A’s are bringing in a bunch of young guys.  Apparently the league needs more people who can’t buy beer or go to see R-rated movies without their parents.  They also have MacGruber, which will certainly help.  I wish the A’s the best, but until I see something, I can’t put too much faith in Kong’s Kids.  Player to watch: Will there be a sophomore slump?  Or can last year’s Rookie of the Year, Neutron put up another solid season? 
  1. Rockies aka Iron PigsAs far as I can tell this is the exact same team as last year… but I didn’t actually look, cause at this point we’re too far down the list for me to care.  Player to watch:  Uh, EAD, because he’s the only guy on the team I remember.  His name is Joel.  I think.
  1. Chihuahuas.  This is an actual wiffleball team in the HRL.  They get to play wiffleball each week… hopefully… if they have enough players to field a team.  Player to watch: Nope.  Not going to do it.
  1. Orioles.  I know I don’t know everything that is going on in the league, but it seems odd that two rookies with less than a full season of experience (combined) have their own teams.  Player to watch: I don’t care.  If you read this far, kudos.  You must be very bored.

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# Kong
Sunday, April 21, 2019 8:08 PM
Well done!

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