History of the Santa Lechuga Power LeagueBy Pedregoso Rios
Santa Lechuga is a fictional town located just outside Salinas, California, created in early 2000 by Monterey Herald columnist Joe Livernois. Through this town, Livernois was able to parody the numbskull machinations of small town politics without directly offending the actual numbskulls. The characters who inhabited Santa Lechuga were colorful, vivid, inept, and small-minded creatures lumbering through their pitiful existences -- mirroring their real-life counterparts in the real-life towns near the fictional Santa Lechuga.
Livernois told the tales of Santa Lechuga so well that the publishers at the Monterey Herald demanded that he stop writing about the town. It turned out that some readers, who apparently didn't realize his loopy accounts were pure fiction, were calling to complain that they couldn't find the town! Some, exasperated and calling from cell phones along the highway, complained that they had driven for hours looking for the town so that they could meet the characters Livernois wrote about. Several months after having the plug pulled on Santa Lechuga, Livernois wrote:
"During a period of time last year, we wrote a series of columns about the possible destruction of a community known as 'Santa Lechuga,' a town that was supposedly threatened with the construction of a new dam on the 'Arroyo Loco River' that would flood the community.
"We know it will come as a great shock to learn that the community of 'Santa Lechuga' and the 'Arroyo Loco River' do not actually exist. We also described the 'Mission Nuestra Señora de la Lechuga' and the 'rare and endangered Nesting Clank Beetle.' The mission and the insect were complete fabrications. So were several of the characters featured in the columns, including 'Mayor Rube Furrow,' 'Police Chief Espy Espinosa,' and 'Clint Eastwood.'
"Many readers recognized that the Santa Lechuga series was fiction, a satirical account of the type of nonsense that transpires routinely in Monterey County. But other readers apparently "didn't get it" while others actually believed there might be a town which, translated, is named for 'Saint Lettuce.'
But that wasn't the end of Santa Lechuga. Since being forced to stop writing about the town in his column, Livernois decided to combine one of his favorite things in life -- baseball -- with Santa Lechuga. Thus, the Santa Lechuga Power League was born. The SLPL is a Fantasy Baseball League for baseball fans who actually have a life and don't have the time to track daily statistics, make 2:00 a.m. trades, or worry about whether or not Julio Franco's pulled groin muscle will keep his on-base percentage low.
Livernois' fantasy baseball concept was simple: Award points to a hitter when he hit a home run and subtract points every time he struck out. Award points to a pitcher for every strike out he throws and subtract points when he gives up a home run. That is to say, focus on the "power" and call it a "power league." Further, Livernois kept rosters simple by allowing team owners to share players and by limiting the number of "trades." Team owners could choose their teams at the beginning of the year, sit back, and watch to see how they did. No tedious stats tracking. No negotiating with fellow owners to try to swap shortstops. No geeking out.
The SLPL was an instant success. Besides building a loyal following -- which many credited to the fancy camerawork, fast play, and in-your-face, voluptuous cheerleaders -- the league made it easy for lazy owners to sit back and do nothing for an entire season, a comfort enjoyed by many actual Major League Baseball owners. Vince Livernois' The Livernoids of Sacramento, California, was crowned the first champion of the Santa Lechuga Power League in 2000. Scott Brown's White Man's Overbite of Monterey, California, was crowned the 2001 SLPL champ. John Livernois' Stampeding Bovines of Chico took the crown in 2002. Aaron Pankoke's The Strokes won the 2003 SLPL Championship. Ian "Real Deal" Hicks, an 11-year-old phenom out of Bloomington, IN, rode his horse I'm Winning to the 2004 SLPL Championship. Jim Cummings, a one-time perpetual doormat in the league from Ridgefield, WA, won the 2005 championship with the Washingtino Bullets. David "Eddie" Edison of Cameltowing, Inc., came on strong in the Playoffs to win the 2006 Overall Championship. Maggie Cunning & Jim Oldham, co-owners of the California Sluggers, were officially crowned the Overall Champs of the 2007 Santa Lechuga Power League. Mark Olivarria and his Dodger Blue made an impressive run in the Playoffs to win in 2008. In 2010, David "Eddie" Edison of Cameltowing, Inc., became the first two-time winner in the history of the league. Jim "Licko" Klinhamer’s Tres Caballeros leapfrogged six teams during the playoffs to take home the 2010 crown. Brandon Olivarria, owner of the awesomely-named team Kirby Puckett's Good Eye, won the 2011 season.
The Santa Lechuga Power League developed its share of critics during it's first years. Some say the fancy camerawork, fast play, and in-your-face, voluptuous cheerleaders degraded the sport, obviously missing the fact that this is a fantasy baseball league. Others critics have hounded endlessly on the death and destruction left in the wake of the now infamous Bobblehead-of-Lettuce, which was called "insidious" by The Boston Globe, "absolute evil" by the Christian Science Monitor , and "the pinnacle of everything that's good in this world" by Osama bin Laden. (Click here to read how the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce doll went from being an innocent souvenir to the most despised item on the face of the earth.)
Despite the critics, the Santa Lechuga Power League is thriving. At this writing in early 2012 -- coming off a 2011 season with 48 teams and $2,910 spread across 16 owners -- SLPL Commissioner Rube Furrow ... well, frankly, he expects pretty much the same as has happened in previous seasons: Lots of finger-crossing that some Hall-of-Famers will finally go to the Bg Sleep. Lots and lots of payouts. Some very impressive teams. Some very real duds. And a lot of bitter sarcasm fueled by ineptness, losing, and a realization that the season is lost even before it began. But don't let that stop you from making trades!