History of the Santa Lechuga Power League

By 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 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. After 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.

Teams won. In fact, we have had Overall Champions each and every year. Here they are:
  • 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 and took home $1360.
  • Aaron Pankoke's The Strokes won the 2003 SLPL Championship and scraped $628 out of the pot.
  • Ian "Real Deal" Hicks, an 11-year-old phenom out of Bloomington, IN, rode his horse I'm Winning to the 2004 SLPL Championship and a $513 check.
  • Jim Cummings, a one-time perpetual doormat in the league from Ridgefield, WA, won the 2005 championship and $700 with the Washingtino Bullets.
  • David "Eddie" Edison of Cameltowing, Inc., came on strong in the Playoffs to win the 2006 Overall Championship and hefty $718.
  • Maggie Cunning & Jim Oldham, co-owners of the California Sluggers, were officially crowned the Overall Champs and cashed a $595 check.
  • Mark Olivarria and his Dodger Blue made an impressive run in the Playoffs to win in 2008 and banked $558.
  • In 2009, David "Eddie" Edison of Cameltowing, Inc., became the first two-time winner in the history of the league and took home another $540.
  • Jim "Licko" Klinhamer’s Tres Caballeros leapfrogged six teams during the playoffs to take home the 2010 crown and $593.
  • Brandon Olivarria, owner of the awesomely-named team Kirby Puckett's Good Eye, won the 2011 season and $505.
  • Quiet dark horse Kyle Harmon’s Kempin' It Real! was crowned the 2012 Overall Champ and took home $500.
  • The possum-like Kevin Klinkhamer, owner of Dongwhipped, jumped from 2nd place late to both Regular Season and Overall Championships in 2013 while collecting $455.
  • In 2014, the commanding Kevin Klinkhamer, owner of Dongwhipped, took command early, commanded throughout, and won both the Regular Season and Overall Championships — along with $560 — to become the first back-to-back champ.
  • In 2015, David "Eddie" Edison of Cameltowing, Inc., took the Regular Season Championship but was overtaken during the playoffs by Quebec Ballon de Sport owner Jennifer Leigh, who was crowned the Overall Champ and scraped $715 — a Hank Aaron! — out of the Pot.
  • The 2016 season simply belonged to Donde Esta Mi Cerveza owner Tom Kinchus, who pretty much won everything in every category, even categories he wasn't in, to scrape $800 out of The Pot.
  • Joe Kelly, who walked into the 2017 season with the best team name — Mar-a-Lago Orange Sox — walked out of the season with the best team name, the Overall Championship, and $935.
  • Paul Martin, owner of the Cabbage Farmers, strolled into the 2018 post-season in 4th place overall and didn't sniff an Overall Championship until Game 4 of the World Series, then won it all, along with $915 total in winnings. Paul was also the first blood-relative to Jim Cummings to win the Jim Cummings Cup.
  • D.Jay Andersen took command early and coasted to an easy victory in the 2019 season, scraping a cool $838 out of the pot. He was crowned champ of pretty much every thing he could be crowned champ of and pretty much ruled the roost.
  • With a format that was barely recognizable — hey, we carried very little enthusiastic joy with Covid as a backdrop — defending champ D.Jay Andersen figured out yet another way to manipulate the variables of the league and made nearly ten-times his ownership fees by pulling $225 out of the pot.
The Santa Lechuga Power League developed its share of critics during its 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. Other 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 continues to thrive. During the 2020 season the league fielded 22 teams and distributed $525 across eight champs/co-champs, bringing the total monies distributed to league champs since 2001 to $52,104*. Gearing up for 2021, SLPL Commissioner Rube Furrow said he expects … well, frankly, Rube expects pretty much the same as has happened in all past seasons: A horse race. Some very impressive teams. Some very real duds. Winners. Losers. And a lot of bitter sarcasm fueled by ineptness, losing, and a realization that the season is lost even before it began. But that won't stop any of us!

2001 Total Pot - $233
2002 Total Pot - $2,110
2003 Total Pot - $1,631
2004 Total Pot - $1,925
2005 Total Pot - $3,675
2006 Total Pot - $3,335
2007 Total Pot - $2,590
2008 Total Pot - $2,265
2009 Total Pot - $2,830
2010 Total Pot - $2,685
2011 Total Pot - $2,910
2012 Total Pot - $2,900
2013 Total Pot - $2,460
2014 Total Pot - $2,300
2015 Total Pot - $3,430
2016 Total Pot - $3,650
2017 Total Pot - $3,920
2018 Total Pot - $3,780
2019 Total Pot - $2,950
2020 Total Pot - $525
2021 Total Pot - ???
Combined Pots - $52,104