August 5, 2006 

The Dream Season

With the league taking a two-week break to celebrate the commissioner's nuptials, let's entertain ourselves with an amusing diversion: The DMBL Dream Season!

We selected the best year of each franchise's best players to assemble a 30-man roster, then we'll play out the season. We selected the batters and pitchers based on each player's real-life and DMBL stats, favoring "franchise" players over one-year wonders, though there's some of those mixed in as well. We also made sure each team had a back-up at each position.

To level the playing field between the franchises -- and to avoid the, um, unusual numbers produced during the Microleague Era -- we picked each team's best players from the DMB Era -- 1997 to present. (That translates to MLB '96 to '05)

Perfecting time travel was the easy part. The challenge? Picking the players! Some choices were obvious, others were gruelling. Some fans will howl about who was left off, while others will scoff at who was included. But that's part of the fun.

A player who played for more than one franchise was allowed on each team, as long as it was in different seasons. In cases where multiple teams could claim the same player in the same year, we went with the franchise that had him at the start of the season. Thirty-nine players are on two teams, including three who were "three-peats": Moises Alou (Louisiana, Rabbis and Vancouver), Gary Sheffield (Louisiana, Harrison and Rabbis) and Alfonso Soriano (Rabbis, Harrison and Columbia).

The Dream Season
Hanover Division
Team Owner
Brooklyn Deductions
batters | pitchers
David Schlossberg Brooklyn Bean Counters (2001-2003)
Westwood Deductions (2004-present)
Harrison Rat Pack
batters | pitchers
Eric Wickstrom Harrison Rats (2001-2004)
Las Vegas Rat Pack (2005-present)
Hoboken Cutters
batters | pitchers
Mark Hrywna Hoboken Cutters (2001-present)
Honolulu Sharks
batters | pitchers
Adam Kozubal Honolulu Sharks (1997-present)
Matthew's Mighty Rabbis
batters | pitchers
David Landsman Jerusalem Rabbis (1997-2000)
Matthew's Mighty Men of Stanhope (2001-2005)
Matthew's Mighty Men of Marietta (present)
Newark Sugar Bears
batters | pitchers
Craig "Butch" Garretson Newark Sugar Bears (1997-present)
Phoenix Dragons
batters | pitchers
Mike Chan Phoenix Dragons (1997-present)

Morris Division
Team Owner Composition
Arkansas Golden Falcons
batters | pitchers
Mike "Stump" Matiash Arkansas Golden Falcons (1997-present)
Carolina Mudcats
batters | pitchers
Chris Pucci Carolina Mudcats (1997-present)
Columbian Cartel
batters | pitchers
Brian "Dizzy" Dissler (1997-2005)
Jamie Landsman (present)
Columbia Crusaders (1997-2001)
Columbia Rattlesnakes (2002-2005)
D.C. Bushslappers (present)
Louisiana Hitmen
batters | pitchers
Brent Cambpell Louisiana Lightning (1997-1998)
Hillsborough Hired Hitmen (2005-present)
Philadelphia Endzone Eagles
batters | pitchers
Anthony "Bocci" Pucci
Philadelphia Eagle Wings (1998-2000)
Philadelphia Endzone Animals (2001-present)
South Lisbon Hill Bandits
batters | pitchers
Paul Barbosa Lisbon Diabos (1997)
Kentucky Hillbillies (2000-2001)
Tijuana Banditos (2002-2005)
South Boston Gang (present)
Vancouver Ironfist
batters | pitchers
Yaro Zajac
Vancouver Ironfist (1997-present)

The rosters listed above include each player's MLB stats and year.


Composition: Arkansas Golden Falcons (1997-present)

One of the greatest franchises in league history and one of the league's seven original teams. Arkansas Golden FalconsGolden Falcons owner Mike "Stump" Matiash has led his team to a DMBL-record 13-straight post-season appearances, earning five league championships, four Commissioner's Cups and seven Morris Division titles. It's no surprise the Falcs' all-time roster is stacked from top to bottom with great players. The batters are led by, who else, Barry Bonds. It was tough picking just one year from Bonds, but we went with 2001 (.328, 1.379 OPS, 73 HR, 173 RBI, 177 BB), the season that powered his record-setting DMBL campaign of 2002. The pitching is ridiculously good, leading all dream season teams in ERA (2.54), R/9 (9.7), K/9 (9.8) and K:BB (4.1). Everybody's awesome, but the leaders are 1999's Pedro Martinez (23-4, 2.07 ERA, 8.7 R/9) and 2004's Brad Lidge (6-5, 29 SV, 1.90 ERA, 8.8 R/9).


Composition: Carolina Mudcats (1997-present)

The Mudcats Carolina Mudcatsjoined the league in the '97 expansion and were competitive the very next season, missing the playoffs by just 4 games. They would reach the promised land in '99, '01, '03 and '04, and this year are threatening to win the Morris Division. Owner Chris Pucci has an eye for pitching talent, and his all-time staff is one of the deepest of any franchise. The batters shouldn't be overlooked, particularly 2004's Jim Edmonds (.301, 1.061 OPS, 42 HR, 111 RBI), but the real stars are the pitchers, led by 1997's Roger Clemens (21-7, 2.05 ERA, 9.7 R/9) and 1998's Tom Gordon (7-4, 46 SV, 2.72 ERA, 9.1 R/9).


Composition: Columbia Crusaders/Rattlesnakes (1997-2005); D.C. Bushslappers (present)

The Columbian Cartel is a fusion of two franchises: Brian "Dizzy" Dissler's Columbia Crusaders, a founding team that played from 1991 through 2005 Columbia Crusaders(renamed the Columbia Rattlesnakes prior to the 2002 season); and Jamie Landsman's D.C. Bushslappers, who inherited Columbia's roster prior to this season. With just one Bushslapper year to work with, the roster are mostly Dissler-era players, though there are several players who overlap the two owners. Though the Crusaders/Rattlesnakes never had a winning season, and '06 hasn't been a banner year for the Bushslappers either, this roster is surprisingly talented. The top batter was a huge season from 2000's Frank Thomas (.328, 1.061 OPS, 43 HR, 143 RBI) and the top pitchers were 1997's Darryl Kile (19-7, 2.57 ERA, 11.0 R/9) and 2004's Joe Nathan (1-2, 44 SV, 1.62 ERA, 9.1 R/9).


Composition: Harrison Rats (2001-2004); Las Vegas Rat Pack (2005-present)

The Rat Pack are well on their way to their greatest season of all time; with more than two dozen games left in the season, Harrison Ratsthey've already set a new franchise record in wins, beating the 78 wins they put up in their inaugural '01 season for a 7th-place finish. This squad takes the best players assembled by owner Eric Wickstrom since he joined the league that spring, taking over the Austin Outlaws. Since they're having their best season this year, it's not a surprise they have more players (9) from the current season than any other franchise. But the best of the batters comes from the franchise's inaugural season -- Gary Sheffield in 2000 (.325, 1.081 OPS, 43 HR, 105 R, 109 RBI), while the top pitchers are 2002's Derek Lowe (21-8, 2.58 ERA, 9.3 R/9) and 2005's Todd Jones (1-5, 40 SV, 2.10 ERA, 9.6 R/9).


Composition: Hoboken Cutters (2001-present)

Hoboken CuttersRising from the ashes of the scandal that brought down the Arizona Rattlers and Hawaii Volcanoes, the Cutters reached the post-season in just their second year of existence, just missed last year, and this year are poised to make a return trip. In between the team has had some rough times, but they've never had a 90-loss season. Mark Hrywna fields a team with a loaded offense including young Miguel Cabrera from the current season (.323, .947 OPS, 43 2B, 106 R, 116 RBI) and a pitching staff anchored by 2002 Rookie of the Year Joel Pineiro (6-2, 2.03 ERA, 8.8 R/9) and 2005 Reliever of the Year Jason Isringhausen (2.87 ERA, 9.6 R/9, 47 SV).


Composition: Honolulu Sharks (1997-present)

Honolulu SharksIt took a few years, but Adam Kozubal has steadily built up the Sharks since its early years as the league's favorite catch of the day, with five straight bottom-5 finishes from '97-'01. The Sharks just missed the playffs in '02, then made it as the No. 5 seed for three consecutive seasons. Surprisingly, two-thirds of the roster comes from the pre-playoff days, including a monster 2001 season from Jason Giambi (.342, 1.137 OPS, 38 HR, 120 RBI) to lead the batters. But the best pitchers come from recent vintage, including huge seasons from Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34 ERA, 8.8 R/9) in 2003 and Ugueth Urbina (1-6, 40 SV, 3.00 ERA, 9.6 R/9) in 2002.


Composition: Lousiana Lightning (1997-1998); Hillsborough Hired Hitmen (2005-present)

Brent Campbell joined the league in its second season as an expansion franchise, Louisiana Lightningthe Scranton Sparrows. In 1997, his team -- renamed the Louisiana Lightning -- won 109 games and captured the Hanover Division title. The following season his team won 84 games and returned to the post-season. Campbell then took a seven-year hiatus from the league, returning in 2005 to take over the moribund Hillsborough franchise, which he renamed the Hillsborough Hired Hitmen. There are a number of terrific batters, including 2005's Alex Rodriguez (.321, 1.031 OPS, 48 HR, 130 RBI). The top pitchers bookend the franchise: 1996's John Smoltz (24-8, 2.94 ERA, 9.1 R/9) and 2005's Chad Cordero (2-4, 47 SV, 1.82 ERA, 9.0 R/9).


Composition: Jerusalem Rabbis (1997-2000); Matthew's Mighty Men of Stanhope (2001-2005); Matthew's Mighty Men of Marietta (present)

Having reached the playoffs for three consecutive seasons -- and seven out of the last eight -- the team founded in the 1996 dispersal draft as the Jerusalem Rabbis won the 2000 World Series, Matthew's Mighty Rabbisbecoming the only team other than Arkansas, Newark or Vancouver to win it all. Owner David Landsman moved the team in 2001 and became Matthew's Mighty Men of Stanhope, reaching the post-season in four of five seasons. This year, they moved again, becoming Matthew's Mighty Men of Marietta, and they're once in the thick of a playoff battle. The potent offense features a number of great hitters, including Todd Helton (.372, 1.162 OPS, 59 2B, 42 HR, 147 RBI), who had a monster 2000 season. There's no shortage of great pitchers either, but maybe the fondest memories for Jerusalem fans will be evoked by Jose Lima (21-10, 3.58 ERA, 11.0 R/9), whose huge 1999 MLB season helped lead the team to the world's championship. The top reliever is, of course, Mariano Rivera. All his seasons have been great, but we went with his current season (43 SV, 1.38 ERA, 8.3 R/9).


Composition: Newark Sugar Bears (1997-present)

The Newark Sugar Bears, Newark Sugar Bearsfounded in the 1996 dispersal draft, have reached the playoffs in each of their 10 seasons. They've won the Hanover Division title eight times, the Commissioner's Cup four times and the World Series five times. Suffice it to say, this is a loaded franchise, particularly when it comes to the batters. The Sugar Bears lead all teams in the dream season in OBP (.407), SLG (.551), OPS (.958) and RC/27 (8.6). It's tough to settle on one guy as the top batter, but let's go with Mark McGwire and his eye-popping '98 season (.299, 1.222 OPS, 70 HR, 147 RBI). The pitching is more in the middle of the pack, but 2004's Randy Johnson (16-14, 2.60 ERA, 8.5 R/9, 290 K in 245.2 IP) and 2003's John Smoltz (45 SV, 1.12 ERA, 7.8 R/9) would make any franchise.


Composition: Philadelphia Eaglewings (1998-2000); Philadelphia Endzone Animals (2001-present)

Philadelphia EaglewingsFounded in 1998, taking over the Lisbon Diabos, this franchise was originally named the Philadelphia Eaglewings, then became the Philadelphia Endzone Animals. They found little success in their first seven seasons, finishing no higher than 9th place -- a stretch that included back-to-back-to-back 99+ loss campaigns. Finally, last year, Owner Anthony "Bocci" Pucci built a winner almost entirely through the farm system, and this year is in the midst of what could be the franchise's second-straight playoff season. The offense is anchored by Albert Pujols (.359, 1.106 OPS, 43 HR, 137 R, 124 RBI in 2003), while the pitchers include young Johan Santana (20-6, 2.61 ERA, 8.6 R/9 in 2004) and Francisco Rodriguez (1.82 ERA, 9.1 R/9, 123 K in 84.0 IP in 2004).


Composition: Phoenix Dragons (1997-present)

Founded during the 1997 expansion, the Phoenix Dragons had an inasupicious beginning, posting a 44-118 record -- Phoenix Dragonsthe second-worst record in league history. (The worst team of all time were the 1993 Waikiki Keys, who went 33-129. The following year the Keys improved to a modest 76-86 -- not great, but an astounding 43 wins better, the best one-year improvement in league history.) In their nine-year history, the Dragons have never made the playoffs or even reached .500. In fact, they've finished in the bottom 5 in every season but one -- 2001, when they went 78-84 to join a four-way tie for 7th, 4 games out of the playoffs. This season won't be a banner year either, as the Dragons have already "clinched" another losing season and a lottery pick. But this franchise does have some notable talent on offense, including a monster 2004 season from Ichiro Suzuki (.372, 101 R, 36 SB) in which he set the league record for most hits in a season (268) and longest consecutive game hitting streak (33). The pitchers include terrific seasons from David Wells in 1998 (18-4, 3.49 ERA, 9.4 R/9) and Troy Percival in 2001 (39 SV, 2.65 ERA, 9.2 R/9).


Composition: Lisbon Diabos (1997); Kentucky Hillbillies (2000-2001); Tijuana Banditos (2002-2005); South Boston Gang (present)

Owner Paul Barbosa has the distinction of having headed the most teams in league history. Barbosa was a founding member, joining in 1991 as the Newark Crimewave. Poor attendance forced the team to move the following season, and they became Tampa Bay Sweat Sox until 1994. The team Kentucky Hillbilliesfolded during the 1995 strike, but in 1997, Barbosa bought an expansion franchise and rejoined the league with the league's first Portugal-based team, the Lisbon Diabos. Barbosa later explained he put the team in Europe because of a "misunderstanding" with the Internal Revenue Service; that misunderstanding eventually led to a three-year prison sentence. When he got out in spring 2000, he took over the Toledo Mutthens, moved them south and renamed them the Kentucky Hillbillies. Two years later, more trouble with the feds forced a relocation further south, to Mexico, where the team played as the Tijuana Banditos from 2002-2005. This year, his financial dealings with the government apparently straightened out, Barbosa has returned to the states with the South Boston Gang. Despite all the upheaval, Barbosa's teams have generally been competitive, with post-season appearances in 2000, 2002 and 2004. This season may continue the trend as the 2006 squad is battling for the final wildcard seed. Barbosa's All-Star squad is well-balanced on offense and defense. The lineup is built around Vladimir Guerrero and his monster 2000 season (.345, 1.074 OPS, 44 HR, 123 RBI). The pitchers are of recent seasons -- there's just two on the roster who came before the team went to Tijuana. The ace is Chris Carpenter from last year's MLB campaign (21-5, 2.83 ERA, 9.6 R/9), while the nasty bullpen is headed by Eric Gagne's jaw-dropping 2003 season (55 SV, 1.20 ERA, 6.6 R/9)..


Composition: Vancouver Ironfist (1997-present)

One of the league's founding members, the Vancouver Ironfist Vancouver Ironfisthave won the World Series three times, the Commissioner's Cup four times and the Morris Division five times. They've also reached the post-season in 11 out of their 14 seasons, and this year it appears they'll make it an even dozen and perhaps win their sixth division title. It's no surprise that the Ironfist all-time roster has some of the league's most talented players. Out of all the "dream season" franchises, the Ironfist rank in the top 3 in almost every offensive category -- including the most doubles, home runs and stolen bases -- and also rank at the top in most pitching categories, including 2nd in team ERA and R/9. Their balanced offense includes a huge 2001 season from Sammy Sosa (.328, 1.174 OPS, 64 HR, 160 RBI), while the pitching includes one of Greg Maddux's three Ben McDonald Award-winning seasons (1997: 19-4, 2.20 ERA, 8.7 R/9), as an Eck-winning campaign from Billy Wagner (1999: 39 SV, 1.57 ERA, 7.1 R/9).