Strat-O-Matic baseball's trial offer of one free team in one of their online leagues. I chose to join a 12-team league with a player pool from the 1990s. The player profiles are based on one of five randomly-selected season stat lines for each player, making it a mystery which one you'll get. For instance, I could have Cal Ripken's 1991 MVP season, his mediocre 1993 season, or his pretty-good 1994 season. The teams are auto-drafted, so I select my preferred 25-man roster in priority order (constrained by an $80 million salary cap) and then hope that I get most of my guys. A full season is simulated at a rate of three games per team per day using Strat-O-Matic's game engine.
I did pretty well in the draft, winding up with an offense anchored by Chris Hoiles, John Jaha, Ripken, Kenny Lofton, Jay Buhner, and Harold Baines. I seem to have a strong bullpen, with Randy Myers closing. Of course, you probably wouldn't confuse my starting rotation with the Bobby Cox-Leo Mazzone Braves. Mike Mussina is the marquee name, followed by Jeff Fassero, Sid Fernandez, Rick Sutcliffe, and Scott Kamieniecki. There's a few names in there that should give longtime O's fans a cold chill.
Nine games into the season, my Hop Bottom Alemeisters are in first place in the East with a 6-3 record. But it hasn't been pretty. In true 1990s fashion, they've hit 16 home runs (led by Buhner's four) and have a .274/.352/.492 batting line that Earl Weaver would love. Cal and Lofton have matching .368 batting averages in a small sample size. But the pitching...woof. Moose has been battered in two straight starts and now has a 6.45 ERA; Fassero and Sutcliffe are almost as bad, and Kamieniecki gave up six runs in three and one-third innings in his lone start. The only guy holding the starters above water is...El Sid. Of course.
Fernandez, one of my favorite punching bags due to his dumpy physique and disastrous year-plus performance in Baltimore, has allowed a grand total of four hits and one earned run in 17.2 innings, with 22 strikeouts and eight walks. In his first start, he hurled a two-hit shutout. In the second, he balked in a run in the sixth and let Jeff Nelson close the door on a 2-1 win in the ninth. That's a 0.51 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and 11.51 K/9. Just the way I drew it up.
It looks like I got one of Sid's early-1990s Mets seasons. Thank goodness.