Playoff time is a special time in the Backyard League, and surely nobody can look at the two teams currently relaxing on first round byes without feeling a SLIGHT hint of nostalgia for dynasties of yesteryear. YEA, IT FUCKING HAPPENED YOU FUCKING LOSERS. Ahem….prior to the 2011 season, Mike Odom and Sean McLaughlin joined forces with an original Backyard League owner (and unfortunately loosely shared a living space) and helped re-tool his roster because he was a tool. That tool’s fall from grace perfectly coincided with Odom/McLaughlin’s rise to power, and for three straight years the league could only look on in exasperation as the little ESPN trophy icon thingie kept ending up in Odom/Sean’s fantasy quiver (yea we never got the league to adopt a real trophy until after we were split up not bitter or anything). No team had ever won back to back championships in the Backyard League in the years prior ( or since, best of luck to the River City Cuban Missiles as they attempt that feat this year 🙂 ) and yet the Sean/Odom dynasty won THREE YEARS IN A MOTHERFUCKING ROW. Given current league standings and given my boredom while on my well-earned bye, I felt this 3 year run deserved a fond look back and I have rebooted Lobman’s now defunct “The History of the League” TO DO JUST THAT. Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we?
Year 1 — Rise of Jimbo’s Vulcan Death Grip
Year 1 of the Odom/Sean/Other Guy partnership was not without it’s growing pains, as Odom and Sean attempted to navigate the inherent challenges with reshaping a roster formed by an idiot. It became very apparent very quickly that the roster management decisions would now be shared solely between new ownership, with the third owner instead focusing his time on petty theft and pettier “borrowing” and thinking of ways to justify his erectile dysfunction in casual conversations. The Sean/Odom partnership slowly found its footing and learned there was value in making as many moves as required/possible, in a league where other owners often times chose to stand pat.
FAST FORWARD to the end of the season: The team name has changed from “Team Dy Young” and whatever the fuck else it became at various times to “Jimbo’s Vulcan Death Grip,” an homage to our brave hero Jimbo choking out our impotent former third owner at a Netzer pool party of sorts (I could write a whole entire article about how funny it was watching said third owner slowly walk around alternately looking for his keys and apologizing to a not-having-it Jimbo but I think its best we put the references to earlier ownership to bed at this point). The Odom/Sean Ownership Partnership has dragged its way into the playoffs as the #5 seed, with a much-derided 9-11 record that no doubt annoyed the PURISTS who prefer all of their playoff teams to be over .500 (which is kinda understandable). Sean/Odom made 326 moves this season, 57 moves more than the previous league record set by Lobman in its inaugural season and 153 moves more than the next highest owner in 2011. And some of those moves paid immediate dividends in the playoffs, such as a trade with the WVU Bombers that brought Joe Mauer and Hanley Ramirez to the JDVG; in Round 1, the #4 seed WVU Bombers were handily defeated by JDVG with a RARE Joe Mauer HR (these were exceedingly rare in 2011) adding insult to injury in the matchup. Round 2 saw Sean/Odom match up with what would become a familiar playoff foe in the years to come, and thus the start of a familiar trend of playoff victories over Lobman was born. To be honest I don’t remember much about this matchup but to be honest I don’t remember much of anything these days (SAY NO TO DRUGS). With Lobman dispatched, all that stood in the way of a dynasty’s humble beginnings was MY VERY OWN BROTHER. My very own brother lost to us and lost handily, and JDVG secured a rather unexpected championship in its first year in the league. Mikey T’s postseason recap post didn’t know what the fuck to do with itself, and it would increasingly give up hope in the years to come. To make matters worse (for everyone else), Sean/Odom did it all as one of the lowest seeds to ever do so (probably) and also did it all as the only Backyard team to ever win a championship with a sub .500 regular season record (maybe).
Year 2 — “World F’in Champions” to Back to Back Backyard Champs
Year 2 of the Odom/McLaughlin reign started with YET ANOTHER name change, this time in tribute to that time Chase Utley used a swear word during the Phillies World Series celebration (apologies to the Rays). I also recall a brief period where we changed our name to the FaceEaters to honor that zombie guy in Miami, but the picture Odom attached upset me and discouraged roster moves because I didn’t want to look at it anymore. So that had to go. ANYWHOM with the entire league mostly viewing title #1 as a fluke, the “World F’in Champions” didn’t do much to dispel that rumor by battling their way through an up and down season. FANTASY IS A CRUEL MISTRESS. In the end, your fearless defending champions were able to improve their playoff seeding by one (#5 seed in 2011, #4 seed in 2012) and flip-flop their record from the year previous (9-11 in 2011, 11-9 in 2012) as they made their way to the postseason once again. Once again, Odom/Sean relied on outpacing the rest of the league in moves (346, next highest was Lobman at 221) to scrap their way to as many wins as possible. Well like, 11 regular season wins.
FAST FORWARD to the aforementioned playoffs: Once there, they quickly dispatched of Greg Heroy’s Youth Movement (remember that name) in Round 1 before once again running into the #1 seed River City Mashers. In perhaps a SIGNATURE win for this franchise, the importance of teamwork was on full display as Odom and Sean worked together to eke out a tight victory over the Mashers. The defining moment of this battle would be a decision to sit key personnel during the Sunday night game (DANNY ESPINOSA) to preserve an OBP advantage, a decision that was deliberated between the two owners via cell phone while Sean was in a Folly Beach tequila bar hitting on a pink-haired waitress (sadly this is a bit of a recurring theme). Ultimate Espinosa sat (“bush league” was the term Lobman used to describe the brilliant strategy) and JUST LIKE THAT the top-seeded Mashers once again were sent home at the hands of Sean and Odom, and just like that Odom and Sean were once again on their way to the Championship Round. This time, it was the shocking #6 seed Somerville Sluggers that opposed them. As I recall the commissioner was making a lot of ballyhoo about how the Somerville Sluggers would be the first team to win the championship with a sub .500 record even though we had just done that very thing THE PREVIOUS FUCKING YEAR. DISRESPECTFUL! Long story short SeanOdom beat Pete Mitchell’s ass, and while I can’t recall the specifics and can’t look back on the league history from that year I am fairly certain it was a comfortable victory. I don’t recall being stressed.
AND JUST LIKE THAT, Odom/Sean became the first team to win back-to-back championships in the Backyard’s pathetic history and the Tampa Bay TwoTimeTwoTime! were (briefly) born.
Year 3 — Back to Back to BACK?!?!?! 3PO Rises
Year 3 of the McLaughlin/Odom reign of terror began much as year 2 did, with other league members pointing to mediocre regular season records and clinging YES CLINGING to the belief that somehow this team had just gotten lucky for two consecutive postseasons in a row. OH how that would change in year 3, when the dynasty took its final form. The TwoTime TwoTime opened up the 2013 season by going 0-2 (losing to Ryan and Rojo), surely to the delight of the other league owners that had grown accustomed to relatively quiet regular seasons from the back-to-back champeens and hoped that this time perhaps they would sit out the postseason. They quickly rebounded by evening up their record at 2-2 before dropping another game (to a one Brian Smith) and ending up at 2-3. AND THEN…..and then they didn’t lose another motherfucking game all motherfucking season ladies (and mothers). The juggernaut that was the 2013 Sean and Odom Connection won 14 straight games from May 6th to August 18th, in the process renaming themselves as the F’in Freight Trains and immortalizing Lou Marson forever. Only a Week 20 matchup with their old foe the River City Mashers even so much as attempted to slow them down, as they battled Lobman and his gang of baseball men to a 6-6-2 tie. It was the equivalent of putting a (green)penny on the train tracks and expecting it to derail an entire freight train. The Freight Trains as they were known showed a bit of restraint in the moves department in 2013, failing to amass 300 moves for the only time in their history (295 moves, Lobman lead the league with 344). In the end they ended up as the #1 seed with a 16-3-1 record, narrowly edginge out the Angels in the TROUTfield (eye roll emoji) for the top seed in the playoffs WHICH WOULD PROVE RATHER IMPORTANT (The AitT went 16-4 in 2013, 0-2 against SeanOdom).
CUE THE PLAYOFFS ONCE AGAIN: For the first time in their history, Odom and Sean got to sit back and relax during Round 1 (kinda like this year) and awaited their Round 2 opponent as the number 1 seed. Naturally Round 2 brought the River City Mashers as usual, and THIS ONE practically deserves its own article folks but I wouldn’t want to take away from the greater narrative….. 13-0-1. The only reason the F’in Freight Trains didn’t record a CLEAN SWEEP of the categories against those sorry Mashers of River City is because they failed to record a complete game, which probably haunts me in some small way (many things do). But AT LEAST, in their third playoff tango, Sean/Odom were able to hand Lobman the worst playoff loss this league has ever seen or will ever see (probably). The F’in Freight Trains found themselves in the championship game for the third straight season, this time against their most dominant opponent yet in the Angels in the TROUTfield.
As mentioned, the AitT went 16-4 in 2013 and they have for years boasted one of the more impressive on paper rosters in all of the Backyard League. This was the year they put all of that on paper talent together, and if not for their second loss to the Freight Trains in the regular season they may have entered this championship matchup in position of the higher seed and thus the tiebreaker. BUT THAT 2ND LOSS HAPPENED. And it would end up costing the AitT dearly. Heroy’s squad was relentless early and dominated the HRs, RBIs, and OBP categories. However the Freight Trains were able to keep pace by staying out in front in ERA, strikeouts, and wins. Employing Mets closer Latroy Hawkins in a weekend with a Saturday Mets doubleheader helped the Freight Trains snag a lead in saves that they would not relinquish, and this matchup ultimately ended up tied heading into a Red Sox v. Yankees Sunday night matchup. Willing to betray all of his loyalties for just one sweet sweet matchup, Heroy employed rando Red Sawks relievers like Craig Breslow in hopes of grabbing a hold that would tie the holds category and give Heroy the gold. This did not happen, and once Ichiro Suzuki’s FINAL INNING (I think) steal was ruled fielder’s indifference (Heroy had Ichiro, steals were tied 7-7) it became clear that there would not be a new champion this year. Odom/Sean and their Freight Trainers had gone BACK TO BACK TO FUCKING BACK, something they to this day feel confident will never be repeated in such a cutthroat league environment (just ask us about it!). The 3peat OffendaZ were born.
Year 4 — “All That Shimmers In This World Is Sure To Fade Away Again”
Super-band Fuel once said that all that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away again. Which you should know since I just quoted it above. And they…. were right. Riding the high of their 3peat, the 3PO casually rolled their way to another #1 seed and first round bye in 2014. I say “casually” and I mean it, as they ended up with a MERE 244 moves in 2014 (Lobman once again leads the league with 344 that year). After their Round 1 bye the 3PO met the newly-formed Whitesville McGibblets, who were only in the league because the Somerville Sluggers never recovered from their crushing championship loss to Sean/Odom and abruptly retired shortly thereafter. OH SWEET IRONY. The McGibblets shocked the world by defeating the 3PO 8-5-1 in Round 2, in a matchup where the 3PO’s performance was so incredibly bland that I can’t even think of an excuse to blame as to why it happened. The 3PO probably should have stolen more bases or something. ANYWAYS, at least the McGibblets lost in the championship to Ryan McLaughlin’s “Swingmen” but that is not what you are here to read about. Nobody watches the Nirvana “Behind The Music” to hear about how Pearl Jam was doing at that time.
In the end, the league seized upon the 3PO’s shocking Round 2 loss and a need for another owner to break apart the dynastic partnership mere months after they suffered their only playoff loss in 4 seasons. Today Odom and Sean act as friendly opponents, rooting from afar for the success of their other former co-owner but also focused on their individual teams. With this year’s byes ending up in their familiar hands, one can only think back on A THREE YEAR NIGHTMARE FOR EVERY OTHER LEAGUE OWNER and wonder if Odom and Sean might find themselves in the championship game again this year…..this time………………………………………………….as opponents……………………………………….