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Old 03-09-2016, 03:42 PM   #1
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Baseball's Reboot: the Birth of the Federation, 1893

The 1890 baseball season ended in chaos. The League of the Player's Brotherhood challenged the established National League and American Association, taking many of their players and outdrawing them at the turnstiles. At season's end, both the NL titlists from Brooklyn and the AA flag-winners from Louisville refused to meet the Brotherhoods' Boston Reds in a post-season tournament...but they could not agree on a "World's Series" between each other, either, and so 1890 ended without a clear champion.

1891 was worse -- far worse. The PL refused to make nice with the established leagues, instead taking many more of their players. The NL clubs, especially, refused to take this lying down, as brawls became common at PL contests. Groups of toughs secretly hired by the National clubs would start fights in the stands, many of which would continue on the field. Fans began to stay away from the parks of all three leagues, especially those of the PL, which folded suddenly in August.

Incredibly, a World's Series was somehow arranged by the NL champion Boston Beaneaters and the AA champs from St. Louis. After the teams split two games in Missouri, the best-of-seven competition headed to Boston for game three. Fans applauded as the two rival managers, Frank Selee and Charlie Comiskey, shook hands at home plate. No one could have suspected that it was the last thing either man would ever do.

The first explosions rocked the left field side of the Grand Pavilion, causing it to collapse on top of hundreds of screaming fans. Several more soon followed, and within moments South Side Grounds was a blazing inferno, eventually destroying the ballpark and dozens of other buildings in downtown Boston. (No exact figures are available, but at least eight thousand people died that day, including nearly the entire rosters of the St. Louis and Boston ballclubs.)

President Harrison and Congress took swift action, banning all large gatherings at "sporting endeavors" for "the remainder of the emergency". This meant that league baseball in 1892 would be almost impossible in large cities; ironically, it flourished in small towns, whose ballfields held less than the maximum of two hundred spectators. Many big-league teams folded outright; others, like the reconstituted St. Louis Browns toured the country. (William "Hero" Hoy, the Browns' only survivor of that terrible day, never failed to get a wild ovation every time he came to bat.)

In the 1892 elections, Harrison lost out to former President Grover Cleveland, who favoured relaxing the Sporting Laws and "bring real baseball back". But it was clear that the new "big leagues" -- dubbed the American Federation of Baseball Clubs -- would have to be radically different from the old ones.

The AFBC would have twenty-four clubs, all of which would be owned by their communities; the New York City Baseball Club (and its ballpark), for example, was owned by the City of New York and run by a Board of Directors consisting of community leaders, many of which were rabid "fans" of the game. The old, corrupt oligarchs who ran the game before were out, and their old organizations were gone -- even the team names would be changed.

With the idea of a "World's Series" leaving a bad taste in the mouths of baseball aficionados since the Boston Disaster, a new trophy would have to take its place as the pinnacle of baseball supremacy. Lumber baron William Chase Temple, owner of the old Pittsburgh club, was forbidden from having a piece of the new Pittsburgh club; but, wanting to stay in the game, donated a thirty-inch silver cup, dubbed the Temple Cup by the newspapers.

Most significantly, the 24 clubs would be divided, not into two equal leagues of twelve teams, but into a "First Division" (consisting of larger cities) and a "Second Division" (mid-sized cities), mirroring the setup used in British soccer. At season's end, the top two teams in the Second Division would be "promoted" to the top flight for the following year, replacing the bottom two teams in the First Division. (The larger clubs would also have the opportunity to "buy" their way out of relegation; this basically meant cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia would remain in the 1D, no matter how many poor seasons they had.) The Temple Cup tournament would consist of four rounds and thirteen clubs: nine from the 1D and four from the 2D. The First Division champions (or "National Champions") would automatically receive a bye to the semifinals, while the other 12 clubs would play for the other three spots in the semis.

Former President Benjamin Harrison was named as the first Commissioner of Baseball -- in time, this job would be nearly as prestigious as the President of the United States. "Let's play ball!" Harrison shouted at National Park in Washington on Opening Day.
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Old 03-09-2016, 05:25 PM   #2
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I've done a number of alternate histories -- it's the main reason I play the game, in fact -- but this time you'll all get to watch!

It'll be an OOTP17 universe, so it won't start until next weekend. Here are the teams:

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Old 03-09-2016, 07:19 PM   #3
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Very interesting idea! Will follow with interest because of the number of avenues the league could follow in this dynasty. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:45 AM   #4
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All-Star Break, 1893

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The Atlantics (led by Tom Lee, Cupid Childs and Charlie Frank) are threatening to run away with the National Championship (and an automatic bye to the Temple Cup semifinals). Also, Mike Slattery is doing well, which is a surprise...because everybody knows "Slattery will get you nowhere...!"

But, seriously, folks...it looks like Cincinnati will be relegated to the Second Division in 1894, with St. Louis and Boston also in danger of dropping down. (Philadelphia and Chicago, along with New York, will stay put, thanks to the 50/50 Agreement [see below]...)

What two teams in the 2D will rise up? The Millers (with batting star Jake Stenzel) are currently ahead, with four clubs in a knot, battling for second.

In the future, Billy Sunday will become one of America's best-known preachers, but in 1893, he was a thief...the Buckeyes star leads the AFBC with 42 steals.

In the All-Star Game in Rochester, the Red Wings' Bug Holliday won MVP honours with a three-run homer and a RBI triple as the 2D upended the First Division, 9-5.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:52 AM   #5
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Housekeeping

The AFBC will remain a 24-team circuit through 1900, after which expansion will be taken up by the Executive Committee. It is likely at least four clubs, and possibly as many as eight, will be added in 1901.

When the Federation was formed, the big-city clubs didn't like the idea of promotion/relegation. Also, the Fed had to admit that more tickets would be sold in New York than, say, Indianapolis. So, the 50/50 agreement was announced: teams in cities that had at least half the population of the largest city in America would be exempt from relegation for twenty years (1913). This included Chicago, Brooklyn (stll an independent city in 1893), Philadelphia and, of course, New York.
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Old 03-19-2016, 03:54 PM   #6
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1893 final standings and playoffs

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Brooklyn takes National Championship; Boston edges out St. Louis to avoid relegation; Lions and Vigs to drop to D2; Buffalo, Minneapolis to take their places in top flight; Detroit grabs wooden spoon.

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Old 03-19-2016, 04:12 PM   #7
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The Atlantics needed the full five games to eliminate the 2D champs from Buffalo; they'll take on the second-place Baltimore Terrapins for the Temple Cup!
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Old 03-19-2016, 04:20 PM   #8
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Terps take the Temple!

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The Baltimore Terrapins shock Brooklyn and take the Temple Cup, winning the first two games at Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, then taking two of three at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

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Old 03-20-2016, 10:45 AM   #9
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1894: The Battle of the B-W Turnpike

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Midway through the '94 season, the battle for the National Championship is heating up between the defending Temple Cup winners from Baltimore and the surging Washington Generals. Newspapermen have dubbed "The Battle of the Turnpike", after the road between the two cities. (They couldn't call it "The Battle of I-95", since interstate highways wouldn't be built for another 60+ years.) But don't count defending Nat'l Champ Brooklyn out, at just 4.5 games back.

The real surprise has been the offense; no fewer than fifteen batsmen are sporting .400 averages at the break. Chicago's Tuck Turner is hitting at a blistering .450 pace...and that's not even the best on his own team, as Jesse Burkett is batting a surreal .482! Despite the contributions of Turner, Burkett and Chief Zimmer, though, the Lincolns are struggling at mid-table, in danger of missing the Cup playoffs.

In the 2D, last year's worst team, the Detroit Chiefs, have surged into the second place, behind only Providence. The St. Louis Lions, relegated from 1D last season, got off to a poor start in '94 but have now fashioned a ten-game winning streak, rising to within three games of Detroit. The other team to drop down last year, Cincinnati's Vigilants, continue to disappoint this year, just one step above the awful Columbus Buckeyes for the "honour" of the Wooden Spoon.
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:48 AM   #10
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1894 All-Star Game at Boston; 2D wins second straight

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Old 03-20-2016, 11:01 AM   #11
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More housekeeping

Temple Cup Champions are automatically promoted to the First Division. (Currently, this applies only to the 3rd and 4th-place teams in 2D, the only teams that would qualify for the Cup playoffs but wouldn't automatically be in the 1D the following year anyway.)

Defending Temple Cup champions cannot be relegated.

In case of a tie for a promotion position, the team that goes further in the Temple Cup playoffs shall be promoted. (If they are both eliminated in the same round, there will be a one-game playoff.)

Ties for relegation will be settled with a one-game playoff.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:25 AM   #12
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1894: Generals motor to title

(Yes, I know autos barely existed in 1894...I'm using the pun anyway...)
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Much rejoicing at National Park as the Generals easily take the Nat'l Championship, led by top pitchers Miller and Bowman, a twosome that will be tough to beat in the Cup playdowns! The favourites to joins the Gens in the semis are defending Nat'l Champs Brooklyn, defending Cup holders from Baltimore, and a surprise package from Buffalo, promoted from 2D just this season. (Chicago needed to win a one-game playoff with Louisville just to grab the bottom rung in Cup playoffs!) Meanwhile, the putrid squads from Cleveland and Boston will drop to the Second Division.

Speaking of the 2D, the St. Paul Saints will come marching into the top division in '95, along with Newark...or is it Providence? We'll have to see how the Neptunes and Grays do in the Cup playoffs to be sure! In Jersey City, Bill Joyce and Charlie Abbey combined for an incredible 45 home runs...but a late-season losing skein doomed the Skeeters to remain in the 2D (unless they can steal the Cup!).

Meanwhile, the Temple Cup playoff match-ups are set:

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Old 03-20-2016, 11:34 AM   #13
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Grays knock out Terps, grab 1D slot in '95

The Providence Grays and Baltimore Terrapins left it all on the field in the Opening Round.

The evenly-matched series featured a bit of everything and in the end, Providence won the final game 9-7 to win the series 2-1.

"Full credit to Baltimore, they played a great series and pushed us to the limit. But we're a tough team to beat. The guys are playing with a lot of confidence now," said Adonis Terry, who was named the series MVP for Providence.

Terry had a 0.00 ERA over 9 innings pitched. He added 1 strikeout with a 1-0 record.

The Providence Grays will play against the Pittsburgh Keystones in the next round. Pittsburgh won their series against the Chicago Lincolns 2 games to 0.


The Grays not only eliminated the defending Cup champions, but ensured themselves a slot in 1D in '95 (following Newark's first-round loss to Buffalo).
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:50 AM   #14
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Gray days in Providence as Skeeters feast

The Jersey City Skeeters just might make it into the First Division after all, after coming from 2-1 down to win their semifinal series with the Providence Grays. After taking Game 4 in Providence, 6-5, on a 9th-inning RBI single from George Tebeau, the Jerseyans held off a late Grays rally to win the decider, 10-7, also in Providence. But to take the Temple Cup, they'll have to beat the powerful National Champions from Washington, who swept aside the Buffalo Braves in three straight in the other semifinal series.

The underdog Skeeters have attracted the love of baseball fans around the country -- except in Kentucky. If Jersey City does win, then three 2D teams (the others being St. Paul and Providence) will advance to the top division in 1895 -- necessitating a third team (joining Cleveland and Boston) to drop down from the 1D: the Louisville Colonels. (Privately, some Federation officials would not like to see the Kentuckians drop down, as they are led by top sluggers Jack Clements and George Davis, and have been drawing good crowds in the bigger cities.)
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:01 PM   #15
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Salute the Generals: Washington takes the Cup

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The Washington Generals were just unstoppable in the Temple Cup Finals, scoring 58 runs in five games -- 29 in the last two contests alone -- to swat the Jersey City Skeeters, 4 games to 1. The Jerseyans were no slouches at the plate, either, notching 36 runs against a strong pitching staff, but they were no match for the boys from DC, led by their 21-year-old third baseman, John McGraw, already a leader. (I'll bet that guy's gonna be a great manager someday...)

Now, let's open up the newspaper to see who won the awards for 1894:

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Old 03-20-2016, 02:57 PM   #16
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1895 All-Star Break: Tight races in both divisions

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Did you know that between Baltimore and Washington lies...Louisville? Well, maybe not on a map, but they are in the AFBC's 1D standings, with the Terps, Colonels and Generals battling it out for the top spot. The Generals, who "did the double" last season (winning the Nat'l Championship and the Temple Cup) are hearing footsteps themselves, just a half game ahead of Brooklyn, with Minneapolis, Buffalo and New York close by...despite barely winning half their games.

Over in the Second Division, St. Louis, Newark and Boston are each at the fifty-win mark, with only a single game separating them as they battle for the two promotion spots. Cincinnati is also in the mix, as is Billy Joyce's Jersey City side.

At the All-Star Game in Detroit, Louisville slugger Jack Clements' sacrifice fly in the eighth, scoring St. Paul's Joe Kelley, was the difference as the 1D edged the Second Divisioners, 6-5. Hughie Jennings' bases-loaded single keyed a five-run fifth for the First Division, who won their first ASG after losing in 1893 and '94.

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Old 03-20-2016, 04:21 PM   #17
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National Championship race goes down to final day of the season

What a race! The battle between the Terps and the Gens is easily the best in the Federation's three-year history, and some old-timers say it's the most thrilling game of ball they've seen since the days of Jim Creighton in the 1860s. And now it comes down to the final day...

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...as Baltimore takes on Louisville at home, while Washington heads to Philadelphia. The Terrapins need a win coupled with a Gens loss to force a one-game playoff for the National Championship.

The Terps did their job, beating the Colonels, 5-4, as Tommy Tucker scored on an error in the 10th. It looked like a playoff would become a reality when the Quakers jumped to a 8-5 lead over the Generals after six innings, but Washington tied the game in the seventh, then went ahead in the eighth when Jack Doyle's double scored John McGraw. The Philadelphians could not answer, and the Gens won, 9-8, wrapping up their second straight Nat'l Championship.

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In the Second Division, things were not nearly as exciting: Big Ed Delahanty's St. Louis Lions, preseason favourites, took the 2D race by twelve lengths over Newark. The Neptunes stumbled a bit in the stretch but still managed to grab the second promotion slot. (The Millers, promoted just two years ago, and Keystones will take their place in the 2D.) Also, despite having one of the Federation's best hurlers in Toad Ramsey, the Cowboys of Kansas City should've stayed out West, as they were slapped with the Wooden Spoon for '95.
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Old 03-20-2016, 04:42 PM   #18
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And that, folks, is why...

...winning the National Championship is so important. While the Washington Generals were resting up and waiting for their semifinal opponent, the two top contenders, Baltimore and Brooklyn, were put out in the first round of the Temple Cup playoffs. (So was 2D champ St. Louis, who'd already secured a spot in the top flight for 1896 but were looking to get their hands on the hardware as well.)

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The Generals quickly found out, however, that the boys from Minnesota were no pushovers, even after splitting two games in St. Paul and taking Game 3 in DC. The Saints tripped the Generals, 8-5, in Game 4, then battered Cyclone Miller in the final game, 14-6, in front of a shocked crowd at National Park. "Sliding" Billy Hamilton batted .556 and ran wild on the base paths, earning series MVP honours. No double-double for Washington.

The other semi was a thriller as well, also going to a deciding Game 5. Trailing Philadelphia 3-1 after six and a half, New York exploded for five runs in the seventh, capped off by Jack Crooks' two-run homer. NYCBC held off the Quakers the rest of the way, 8-5, setting off wild celebrations at the Polo Grounds.
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Old 03-20-2016, 05:12 PM   #19
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Temple Cup III: At sixes and sevens

Many baseball fans grumbled at the prospect of the 1895 Temple Cup Finals (newly dubbed Temple Cup III, as if the Roman gods themselves were watching the event). After the top contenders had been knocked out, the only two still standing were the sixth-place New York City Baseball Club, (led by MVP candidate Hughie Jennings) and the seventh-place St. Paul Saints (whose John Ewing won 30 games). There were calls to not allow such lower-ranked teams into future Cup tournaments, but the battle for Mr. Temple's hardware had become such a moneymaker that cutting things down was obviously not going to happen.

The first game of the series, at least, was a classic: trailing 5-4 in the ninth, Harry Blake smashed a ball down the left field line and over the fence for a game-winning three-run homer. Several Saints argued the ball was foul, but the police, afraid of a re-play of the Boston Disaster just five years earlier, quickly restored order and threatened to arrest any St. Paul players that didn't leave the Polo Grounds field immediately. The next day, the furious Saints plated seven runs in the first three innings and thrashed NYCBC, 10-5, evening the series.

But the heart seemed to go out of the Minnesota boys after that, even playing in front of their hometown fans at Apostles Park. They couldn't get their offense going in Games 3 and 4, losing 8-2 and 8-4. Facing elimination (and wanting to send TC III back to the Big Apple), St. Paul took an early 4-1 lead but could not survive the Big City Ballclub's onslaught, as NYCBC scored in every inning but two en route to a 13-8 victory. Old-timer Cap Anson, star of the defunct National League, won the Cup Final MVP award at the age of 43.

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Old 03-20-2016, 05:26 PM   #20
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Clements, Joyce grab MVP honours

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