OK, I might be one of only a handful of CPBL enthusiasts that have actually seen this show but in honor of Mel Allen (and because this is all I have time for these days!), I introduce CPBL's version of TWiB Notes, which I hope becomes a weekly publication on Mondays.
- The rich get richer and the poor...well, they are the Chinatrust Brothers. Winning one game a week is not going to cut it and although the Brothers are showing signs of life, one has to wonder if changes are a coming (they are on pace to go 30-90 for the season). The Brothers went 1-3 this past week and cleared their bench three times in their three-game set with the Guardians. They did most of the plunking but it was Guardians RP Ni Fu-Te that received a one-game suspension and 10,000 NT fine for a ridiculous pitch behind and above the head of Brothers' hitter Chen Tzu-Hao. The plot thickens between these two teams and there is clearly no love lost between them. It is quickly becoming must-see TV.
- The Guardians receive my vote for the most underperforming team so far. During the pre-season, they were picked by many as the favorites to win this year and yet 21 games in, they are sitting at third with a 10-11 record. They are last in team batting average, home runs, and hits. SP Mike Loree continues to be a stud and if you take his stats out, the pitching staff numbers get a lot uglier. Newcomer Woodall has pulled his share but Billings has yet to hit his stride. If all three of them are clicking and the offense puts it together, I expect much better results for the Guardians.
- The Uni Lions have surprised me a little this year and have remained relatively quiet on the media front. They're sporting an 11-10 record but if you subtract their games against the Monkeys, their record is 10-3. Yep, they are 1-7 against the defending champs and need to figure out what vitamins to add to their protein shakes so they can win some games against the Monkeys. Their trio of new imports (Martinez, Roenicke, and Verdugo) have been solid albeit unspectacular.
- Then there are the Monkeys. A sparkling 16-5 record (4-1 this past week) and a relentless offense that is first in just about every category (the Lions have one more home run) except for steals (only five, the next lowest is the Brothers with 14). But why would you steal a base when just about everyone is hitting over .300? And yes, there is a Monkey hitting over .400 but his name is not Wang Po-Jung! Rookie catcher Liao Chien-Fu has taken the league by storm hitting a robust .452 (Wang is hitting only .360 in case you're wondering) with three home runs and 21 RBI's in 21 games played. And after a dismal pre-season, new imports Nix and Kerns have all of a sudden turned it on and are pitching above expectations. Remember I said the rich get richer? Well, the Monkeys also have one of CPBL's best pitchers from last year, Zeke Spruill, sitting in the minors waiting to be added to the roster.
- Once you think you've seen it all, watch a CPBL game and you'll be treated to something new. In Saturday's 15-14, 4-hour and 40-minute extra-innings walk-off marathon win against the Lions, Monkeys pinch-hitter Lin Hung-Yu failed to step on second base amidst the celebration and jubilation of a walk-off win. But no one noticed. Quite frankly, I would not have said anything even if I did notice just so I could go home!
- This coming week the Lions will play host in Hualien with the only five games scheduled there on CPBL's docket this year. They'll welcome the Brothers for two before a three-game set against the Guardians. The Monkeys will enjoy more home cooking all week as they play two against the Guardians then host the Brothers for a three-game weekend series in Taoyuan. For me, the Brothers-Monkeys series is the one to watch. The Brothers need to win two out of three against the Monkeys before it is really too late to salvage the first-half of the season (they are already 11 games back in the standings). I'm predicting some major moves from the front office if they continue to limp along with one win per week.