What is it Like to Win a CBA Championship?

The Keys for our Success in the Playoffs

By Wolfman Shapiro, 2012 CBA Champion

(Note: - This report I am writing, I hope will be received as a sincere effort to

share my joy and celebration after 7 years (six making it into the playoffs and one

year losing in a run off to Belfast due to usage of our key players) to finally win a

championship. This in no way is to say I am the best manager or that I wish to be

venerated in any way. I thought it might be fun, and since I am a writer, to

describe my experiences during the four weeks or so between the middle of

October and November. Perhaps this will be inspirational for the managers who

made the playoffs for the first time or for managers who have never made the

playoffs and dream of it. Well in this report here is what it was like to go through

this intense period and what were the keys for our success this year vs. the other

five years we made it and failed.)

First I would like to say, that even though it seemed as the Luck of the Wolfish

was with us – none of the three series we played was easy – as the three teams

we played (Cooperstown, winning four games by 4 runs; Philly who could

explode at any time; San Diego with a very good balanced and having to deal

with playing without a DH in a pitchers park). The final game of the World Series

going 18 innings and finally winning due to the pitcher he brought it and not due

to any direct hitting on our part again showed it was a tough series.

Now you may not believe what I am about to share with you, but during these

four weeks I was so focused, that during some of the games which were very

close and could have gone either way, I was visibly shaking and a nervous

wreck. So I am not sure, even though it’s a great great feeling to have finally won

a season – with all our hard work to build our team and playing many exhibition

games to prepare for each series and studying the teams for their weaknesses –

I am not sure if I would want to do this again. It did take a toll upon me both

mentally and physically – as if I put all of myself, all my essence and energy to

focus on finally winning. Because I knew with the late trades I made before our

trading time was over, that we might not get another chance to win for many

years. Especially when you build our teams as we have over 7 years, eventually

there is a let down.

But before we discuss what happened to me for this playoff season let us review

the agony and defeat successed in years past, we go back to being the manager

of the Montreal Royals in 2005.

History to Get to the Championship

(a summary)

2005 Montreal had no really done well in prior years before we took over and

through an experiment done with the SOM game on-line via the Sporting News

we discovered a team with good pitching, defense and some power could be

competitive so we made the playoffs as the wildcard – in our first series via

Limoilou, someone else had to manage them, we were up 3-2 but then Limoilou

came back to tie the series in game 7, we were leading by 1-0 – it was the

bottom of the 8th, bases loaded two outs, Troy Glaus with only one AB left,

comes up and hits a Grand Slam, Montreal loses 4 games to 3. We decide for

the next season we are going for more of a hitters team and I think we change to

Skokie.

2006 – We had a controversial run off game (I forget the name of the team in our

division) where we used a starter we couldn’t for usage – so instead of winning

our division for the first time, we lost out by a game and had to play Longue

Pointe who I believe went on to beat Philly for the Championship. Down 3-0 we

came back to tie the series 3-3, and then game 7 went into extra innings – it was

Ichiro against Nathan who had a great relief card, we picked up Nathan in a

trade, and unfortunately Dennis rolls a 4-11 vs lefties on Nathan and Ichiro was

HR-N vs righties and we lost by a run – again we weren’t hitting enough so we

tried to build a better hitting team.

2007 – We knew at the beginning of this season that no one would contest us for

the division title – we only went 87-75 and we didn’t really have a good 200+

starter although we did pick up Tim Hudson in a trade, we had 100+ starters who

were good – we had a good hitting team this year with power – and we beat I

believe San Diego and Limoilou to be in the series – then we faced the mighty

Phillies who could score 10 runs every game. We down by a lot like 7-0 and

came back to win like 10-8 in game 1. After four games its was 2 a piece but then

came the key game 5, Clemens one of our aces (a year he only pitched partially)

went into the extra innings, Piazza had like a 1-16 home run chance and we

missed, then Philly went on to win game 5 and 6 to be the champion – a taste of

the series but we lost to one of the perennial champions of the CBA. We had to

do better with more hitting.

2008 – finally had a team that was killing the long ball, Indy had the best season

record and beat us by 1 game, I think this year I went to one of those face-to-face

SOM tournaments (forgot what it was called) and made Bob of Indy near

Chicago where he was playing guys in another league – we had a photo taken

and it turned out prophetic we would meet in the series. We knew Bob had a

mighty team, like two all star teams in one team, we saw he was weaker vs.

lefties so we used Lilly 3 times – we took him to game 7 but due to the

tremendous hitters he had we couldn’t keep up – I think we had Bonds and

Sheffield with over 30 homers, this might have been Skokie all time best hitting

team but not the best pitching team. Twice now we had made to the series, and

come out empty would 2009 be our year?

2009 – We had another good team for 2009 but we didn’t plan our usage

properly as all of our key hitters were not available for the final weak of the

season. San Diego this year was kicking our butt – and we need one win out of

seven games to clinch the wildcard in Staub – but we lost all 7 of our last games

and tied Belfast and had to play an extra game. If we would have won this game

and we were up 2-0 early, Weaver was pitching for us (strange how our old

starters haunted us this year) but he could hold it and I think we lost 4-2 or 6-2. I

believe if we made it back to the playoffs we could have had a chance to return

to the series which would have been the first time I believe a team did it for their

conference 3 times in a row but our usage killed us.

2010 I had to retire from the league as we had a very up and down year, my life

partner Katrina and I didn’t really have a stable home, moving from Atlanta to

Asheville, NC for 4 months and then on the road from October 1st through the

middle of February of 2011 – but once the CBA gets in your blood, and Wass

was nice enough to keep me on the Yahoo mailing list, watching ya all having fun

the passion to return was there – there was a chance in 2010 to come back as

some people were thinking to release their teams but it didn’t work out.

2011 – As most of you know, there was an opening via Southwest and Skokie

returned but now we were in Clemente. We once again put our skills together to

build a solid team and won 108 games. Far exceeding any season we had

before. We thought this would be our team that might go all the way – we took

care of Carolina in the first round but we had to play all of our playoff games

(physically) on the road in Massachusetts and New Jersey, almost had a chance

to play Wass live. In our series with Carolina we won but our boys weren’t hitting

as we knew they could. Then we face Brooklyn, who I saw was weaker via lefty

starters and hoped if we pitched Lee and Lilly we could hold down their strong

hitting but this was Wass’ year and no one could stop him, when we lead in the

9th of Game 3 6-5, Cabrera came up in the top of the 9th and hit a 3 run homer

and we knew losing this game 8-6 and down 3 games to none our season would

end which it did in 5 games. I think a key is, whether this makes sense or not is

you have to play the games in an environment that is yours and comfortable. So

we decided we were going to give it our all in 2012 – a year when the Mayans

say our calendar ends and there are all kinds of prophecies, would 2012 be the

year of the Wolfmen?

The 2012 CBA Playoffs from the Point of View of the Wolfman

At the start of the season, after the draft was over and everyone had their core

team in place I knew that Cooperstown and Philly were going to be the teams to

beat. Cooperstown via their manager Jon, had engineered one of the most

successful campaigns I have ever seen to build a championship team – he knew

what he needed and via the draft (he picks galore to trade) and skillful trade of

players build exactly the team he wanted with few weaknesses. I hoped we

would not have to play him in our first round and I knew our teams were very

compatible and similar. Philly created their normal team of hitters and sluggers

galore, non-stop – and not sure if we had enough hitting to keep up with them

should we see them in the playoffs.

The other team we were a bit concerned and we wish to compliment Bruce

Bundy for a great job in his first year, losing out to the playoffs by one game as

perhaps usage hit him at the end like what happened to us in 2009, was Newton.

We were 3-9 vs. Newton. Now Newton and us, almost made a trade before the

draft, as I felt I made the worse mistake of my life trading Matt Kemp to Maine in

2011 to get Upton and some draft picks. I still can’t understand how Maine could

trade Kemp and Gonzalez to Cooperstown – if Maine kept those players maybe

they may have been there for the playoffs, but then Skokie might not have had a

chance to get Uggla. Anyway back to losing Kemp, if Skokie had him in 2012

this would have been something. But we need a slugger (sluggah) in the OF and

so we went after Bautista in Newton but Mr. Bundy is a very schrewd manager

and he wanted a lot for Skokie to get this one player including Cain, B. J. Upton,

Hafner and one of our good reliever – when he asked for Hafner it became too

much. I know see in hindsight the strat Gods were protecting us as if we traded

Cain there is no way we could have taken it all – Cain threw four great games in

our last two series. Now these notes is not to dis-honor Stirling or Brooklyn as

both of them also had good teams and we would have loved to play Brooklyn in

the playoffs to avenge last year but what happened to us against Brooklyn in

2011 hit Brooklyn in 2012 against Philly as he couldn’t score runs.

So as we came to series 1 vs. Cooperstown I knew this was going to be probably

our toughest series. I played an exhibition game against Cooperstown live via

Netplay using our best players and he beat us 20-8, not a good sign. But here is

how I setup to play my games and I didn’t change this for any game I played.

1) I played probably 50 exhibition games against Cooperstown and I had great

difficulty beating Weaver but I knew to go with my best right handed hitters plus

our park favors the righties with ballpark homers – I saw a sign of what was to

come in our playing as we scored 4 runs against Cooperstown in the 1st with

Beckman hitting a two run shot – I hoped this would be a sign of what Beckman

would do for our team but he never hit another homers.

So this was a good sign that we would see hitting in our playoff action but to

prepare for each time I played playoff games here is what I did. Besides playing

the exhibition games to find the best lineups against the pitchers we would face, I

had to take a shower before I played – they say and this may sound strange for

some of you but the negative ions of falling water helps to bring balance plus I

always feel relaxed and calm after a hot shower.

Next I had to have the right clothes on – I had my official Cubs hat on that is

based on the design of their real hat, a blue background with a red C – I wore the

same shirt every game, a black shirt with a spiritual design from the 11-11-11

conference (that Nov. 11, 2011) in Illinois that I spoke at about the subject I am

known in the world, the crystal skulls ala Indiana Jones – and I also had one of

our crystal skull to my right next to the computer – a 10 lb smoky quartz skull who

we called Portal de Luz (Portuguese for Portal of Light). This is the first personal

crystal skull I have had since 1999 and taken everywhere I have traveled – to

Peru, to Europe, to Mexico, to Canada and all over the U.S.

Finally the last key ingredient which gets me psyched up is music – although I

am a modest musician writing a few song via guitar, I had my mp3 player there

and the song I played throughout all the games was called Timelords and KLF, a

piece of work based on the British TV show called Dr. Who that has aired since

the 1960’s in various forms about a Timelord who travels through space and time

called the Doctor or Dr. Who. When I hear this music, I have to move and dance

to it and after we beat Philly to go back to the series was I dancing for Katrina.

Now it is interesting to note, before I go on, when I played for 2 years in the SOM

Baseball Tournaments (The Star Tournaments) I saw a trend about successful

SOM players, they get very psyched out and are so intent on winning that they

seem to magically get the dice to roll their way and they intimate their opponents

– I saw this trait with every champion I played and although I did win some

games against I never had over a .500 record in the tournament plus the

computer game automatically does all the advance rules for us and I didn’t know

these rules well which hurt me. In the old days when the advance game was

simpler I knew everything by heart. By via the tournament I learned some key

strategies – 1B/3B/LF/RF have smaller X-chart chances so have a 4 or 5 there

might be so detrimental and that you have to pay attention to the ball park

homers and singles which in my year or two I didn’t also a catcher 4 is not so bad

either.

So whether my absolute determination to win this year, and listening to my

music, and speaking out to encourage my players to come through while asking

for strikeouts, double plays and counting out loud how many outs till Skokie won

the game was part of our success, plus the chance to play in my home where I

could be crazy and myself, I think it had something to do with it. Now I don’t want

to put my ideas about the paranormal over any one but there many books written

about the power of the mind – and that if you truly focus all of your being upon

creating something, it is possible. As you can tell from the preparation I did,

knowing my opponents team via the exhibition games, finding the best lineups,

taking showers to be in a positive calm state, wearing the same hat and shirt,

listening to a song that make me want to move – and also during the games

listening to my intuition what strategies to use, all of this contributed to our

victory.

I recall all my opponent complaining they couldn’t get their rolls – as we said we

held our opponents (beyond the blow out game) to only 3 runs a game – and no

one is going to win a championship averaging just 3 runs

I watched time after time, how our players would come up with clutch hitting, to

score runs while my opponents struggled to score.

Now none of this would be possible if we didn’t have a balanced team to play

with – and starting at the end of 2011 as we began to make trades, plan future

trades for the draft, draft the players we needed to fill holes and make a few more

trades and then do our final trades in the season, this is hard work but if you want

to be in the playoffs, I don’t care how good you are – you have to tinker with your

team to get it ready. Sometimes we get lucky and we happen to have a team

with few holes as Skokie had in 2011 – but when it is time for the playoffs you

neeed a group of 25 players that can handle any situation

Now lets look at the Skokie team, to see why we had success.

I planned for this season to try to have as many pitchers with low HRs and low

ballpark homers (Cain had a great year, we picked up Vogelsong and Humber,

we didn’t need to use Lilly much in the playoffs – Peavy and Nova were for

starters – and in relief most of our relievers didn’t have any homers – although

Adams and Holland vs righties – they had lights out cards)

We wanted good defense (hoped Hudson and Ethier might have been 1’s) and

we were able to feel a team of 1’s and 2’s with low e’s – we had the lowest errors

this season and best success of outs via X chances which enhances better

pitching in a short series

We wanted speed – we drafted Bourgeios, Chavez (couldn’t believe we got him

late he turned into a key player for us), Lillibridge we already had Hudson and

Upton and picked Aviles later – we drove our opponents crazy with steals and

taking the extra base which until the last game of the series we had great

success.

We wanted power hitters – we had five 30 hrs guys with others who could hit the

long ball vs one side of pitchers or had ball park homers like Molina …

Pitching, Power, Defense, Speed – the four key aspects to build a team, by the

time Skokie was in the playoffs we had it – if we could take the lead in a game

and then bring in our defense and relief it is hard to beat as we can see in the 3

games we had vs. Cooperstown winning 3-2, in the games vs Philly where we

won 4-1, 7-2, 9-3 and in the Series where the most runs San Diego scored

against us was 4 in their victory of game 4-1, the others scores, 5-2, 5-2, 6-3, 3-2

Of course I had to watch usage too – but since we were winning our series

quickly it never really came up until the 18 inning game where some of our

pitchers were getting close and we really didn’t want a game 6 – having used

every player on our team in that game but Vogelsong our Game 6 starter if

needed

Let me share with you some other keys in each game that allow Skokie to win

besides the great pitching we saw and some keys to each series

Cooperstown, Round 2

Game 1 – as we stated we took a quick 4-0 lead but Cooperstown has a great

team and bombed Cain twice this series, and caught up at 5-5, then took a 7-5

lead and I thought we were in trouble but Skokie fought back, Schierholtz, an

unlucky hero singles in the tying runs and Hudson gets a ballpark HR off one of

Cooperstown’s reliever (the ballpark homers on his relievers killed him) and we

win 8-7

Game 2 – we are tied 2-2 due to a 2 run homer by Tulo and in the 9th Aviles

steals 2nd and Molina (our playoff MVP) singles Aviles home with 2 outs and

again we win by 1 run.

Game 3 – This was Beltre’s turn as he belts 2 Home Runs to give Skokie 3-1

lead and then with Holland in the 9th, two outs, Cooperstown mounts their

comeback as Betemit doubles to make it 3-2, then Holland walks the next hitter,

Sweeney single to load the bases bring up the dangerous Beltran hitting over

.400 for the series but Jon rolls on Hollands card and strikes him out – just one

step away from tying the game or winning it.

Game 5 - Iron Horses tie the game 2-2 on a two run shot by Ramirez, Texieria

hits his 2nd homer of the game in the top of the 9th as the Skokie hitter hero but

as we go into the bottom of the ninth, in this due or die game for Cooperstown

again with 2 outs and Holland pitching they rally, Betemit singles, McCann walks,

a wild pitch for 2nd and 3rd 2 outs, Ramirez then walks, bases loaded again 2

outs and Holland again strikes out the next hitter Cabrera. So if Cooperstown

had won Game 3 and Game 5 this report would not be happening perhaps. It

was our intuition to leave Holland in who got the job done.

Philly, Round 3

Game 1 – this game after it ended, I had to take a good 20 minutes to relax as I

was shaking, even though it wasn’t that close with a 4-1 Skokie win, Philly

virtually every inning had men on base. And Rob told me for the series Skokie

and Philly had the same number of hits but he just couldn’t get rallies started and

scored. In this game, Cain was unhittable with help from Adams allowing Philly

only 1 run and Skokie won due to timely hitting and speed as Bourgeois stole 3

bases and had 2 RBIs.

Game 2 – This game followed a similar pattern to Game 1, Skokie scored 7 runs

in the first 3 innings thanks to homers by Upton and Uggla – Vogelsong had

many jams but held Philly to only 2 runs and Holland and Casilla threw 4 innings

of shutout baseball to win 7-2.

Game 3 – was the best game of the series. Even though Skokie again came out

like a house on fire, Philly showed what they were made of and battled back as

Hosmer hit 3 Homers. Molina was the key hitting star for Skokie hitting 2 homers

with 5 RBIs as Hosmer had 5 RBIs too. Skokie was up 8-2 at the top of the 4th

but here came Philly battling back – it went 8-4, then Uggla hit his 2nd homer for a

9-4 lead, but Hosmer 3rd homer brought it to 9-8, Beltre hit his 3rd homer of the

playoffs for a 10-8 lead and Adams and League stopped Philly in the 9th for this

final score, 9 homers in total for the game.

Game 4 – Philly was just worn out and couldn’t keep up with Skokie had an 8-1

lead by the top of the 5th bombing Hamels and again Philly couldn’t reach Cain –

Skokie went to 9-1 in the 7th and Philly scored a run in the 8th and 9th to finish the

game at 9-3. Texieria and Lillibridge (inside the park) had homers for Skokie but

again Molina had 3 RBIs with 2 from Texieria and Tulo. League came in for

Adams and set down the final two hitters. So although Skokie sweep Philly, in

every game Philly always was getting runs on base and could have broken out

but Rob said he wished he silver bullets to throw at us .. to stop the Skokie

express.

San Diego – World Series

Game 1 - The Surf showed they were here to play and took an early 2-0 lead on

Skokie and Vogelsong. But Skokie the lead in the bottom of the 3rd on a 3 run

homer by Tulo and added two more runs while Vogelsong, Adams and Holland

shut San Diego down for a 5-2 win in this game.

Game 2 – Saw Cain return – Tulo again hits a 2 run homer in the 1st but Wright’s

two run shot in the 2nd inning tied the game at 2-2 – Cain then shuts down the

Surf through the 8th and Adams did a 1-2-3 9th as Tulo knocks in all 5 Skokie runs

for Skokie to win again 5-2.

Game 3 – The Surf again takes an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd but

Molina hits a grand slam for Skokie in the 3rd for a 4-2 lead. The Surf score

another run in the bottom of the 3rd so Skokie takes out Humber and the Skokie

relievers pitch 6-2/3 inning of 2 hit shutout ball as Skokie scores two more runs

(one a Teixiera home run) to win 6-3.

Game 5 – This was the wildest game of the 14 games that Skokie played. San

Diego takes a 1-0 lead in the 5th on a 2 base error by Upton and 2-0 lead against

Cain when Youkilis doubles in a run. Skokie spuddering until the 8th as it looks

like the series will have to go Game 6 but Berkman singles in a run and Beltre

doubles in a 2nd run – Skokie sends Hudson to score on an extra base but he is

thrown out at the plate. So at the end of 9 innings the game is tied 2-2. Both team

use up all their hitters and are basically left with pitchers who are tired as we go

into the 18th with neither team able to push a runner across the plate.

Then in the top of the 18th with one out – Hudson pitching in relief for San Diego

as there are no relievers left, Texiera singles (on a tired strikeout on the pitches

card) – then League sacrifices Texiera to second (as there is no hitters to pinch

hit) – then Hudson throws a wild pitch for Texiera to go to 3rd – so he is on 3rd

with two outs, Upton up – he hits the ball at Hudson (a 4 fielding pitcher), Upton

singles in Texiera, Skokie takes a 3-2 lead – then Skokie brings in Lilly (tired) to

face Montero and gets him out but Cano is HBP and steal second – Skokie

brings in Casilla their last pitcher (tired) and he retires Victorino on a flyout and

strikesout Youkilis to end the world series and the last game for Skokie.

Conclusion: - With each game and each series different players came through for

Skokie to win their games.

Some Key stats from the three series

The relievers Lopez – Marshall – League – Cassilla – pitched 20-1/3 innings

allowed no runs and 9 hits – the relievers in total were 5-0 with 8 saves

10 of the 14 games Skokie held their opponents to 3 runs or less

Skokie had a 3.32 ERA which included the 13-0 blow out in Game 4 of Round 2

Skokie hit 20 home runs to 17 for their opponents and outscored them 67 – 53

Skokie was 6-0 at home and 6-2 on the road

9-2 vs righty starters and 3-0 vs lefty starters

Hitting Stars:

Bourgeois .636 (mostly against lefties) stole 8 out of 9 bases

Molina .328, 3 Hrs, 16 RBIs

Tulowitzski .291, 3 Hrs, 12 RBIs

Upton, Beltre, Teixiera 3 Homers each

Skokie hit only .251 and had 23 stolen bases in 28 tries with 5 errors

Final Conclusion

So why did Skokie win the Championship – I would say we were able pretty

much to score runs or come up with the run to win in a timely fashion and we

held our opponents from scoring. The two games we lost, we just couldn’t get

anything going but it would be a miracle if any team could ever win all the playoff

games without a lost – the teams who make the Playoffs are too good for this to

happen.

Was it the luck of the Wolfish or that we had such a strong desire to win that

somehow this influenced the dice roll in the computer program, I can’t say for

sure. Although I can tell you, the my life partner Katrina who is very psychic told

me while our season was going that we would win the championship. She also

predicted one year when Green Bay won the superbowl as a wild card team.

She also was sitting in the same room with me while I played and we hosted all

the games.

But like I said, during the playing of the game it was very intense, I could feel the

muscles in my back tense up and I had to rest after playing. So perhaps, to one

of my CBA brothers who might read this report, if you dedicated every aspect of

your season – from beginning to end, to build the best team you can, to learn

how to use all of your players and that each player has some role to play. That

you can study your opponents teams and play exhibition to test out scenarios

and memorize their cards so when your opponent makes a move you know

instantly what you should do – then perhaps you to can become the next CBA

champion.

I guess the key is, who really wants it the most and who believes they will win to

become the Champion.

And no matter what, never give up, even if you get close one year and don’t win

it all, don’t give up

They say 3 times is the charm and it took us till our 3 time in the series to do it,

we had to wait four years.

Now I have made a proposal to Wass that we should see which is the base

championship team of the CBA of all time by having the teams who won the

world series play each other – lets see how this works out.

I hope you enjoyed my report and now have some idea what it is like to be a CBA

champion – we are honored and hope we can be a good example of this honor

and representative of the fine and very talented managers in the CBA.

Within Skokie Land, you can hear the howl of the Wolfmen and the cries of joy of

the people celebrating their first CBA championship – we are not sure we can do

this again any time soon which is why we traded some of our good players for

next year for some special plays to help us over this last challenge to be

champion. We feel it was necessary and worth it.

Thank you, may your team see a great season in 2013

I am Joshua Shapiro, aka The Skokie Wolfman

YES – we finally did it – I can’t believe it – its over