Franchise Ball News
Beef History: Honolulu Shimakaze vs Oakland Hipponax (Season 83-88)
Nov 30th 2020 By Honolulu Shimakaze

WARNING: LONG ARTICLE (~10 minute read)

"Horowitz, trying to keep Oakland's season alive. Here's the 3-1 from Sorensen: it is popped, high above the left-field line, coming over to make the catch is Jett Souza. And with that, Honolulu Shimakaze is going to San Diego to face the Bombers! World Semifinals at 7!"

On March 23rd, 2020, the 44-16 Honolulu Shimakaze stunned the 1st seed Oakland Athletics in a crushing 15-9 victory in the World Quarterfinals. That Honolulu team would end up inching past the San Diego Bombers before ultimately capturing the Season 83 World Series trophy, beating Yonkers River Rats in a tight Best-of-Three series. What followed was an unlikely friendly yet heated rivalry between two of the best teams in Franchise Ball, filled with gross overpayments, strategy overhauls, and a common enemy.

Season 83: Genesis

Before they became true title contenders, Honolulu Shimakaze was continuing its emergence from a disastrous Season 82. That season, despite keeping much of the same core, Shimakaze plummeted from a record-setting 55-5 to a pitiful 34-26, not even making the Season 82 playoffs in a mostly inactive division. That offseason, the front-office made major moves to revamp the roster, including fleecing the Nationals to acquire LF Jakob Mock and 1B Videl Ballesteros. Coupled with an unorthodox pitching philosophy which stressed pitch-to-contact and control, Shimakaze cruised to a division title.

Meanwhile, the more well-established Oakland Athletics managed a more traditional approach, following in the footsteps of Season 70s giants such as Columbus Average Joes. All of this culminated in a franchise record-setting 51-8 season. Both Shimakaze and A's would win their league titles that year, though back-to-back walk off's in the first and second rounds of their league playoffs meant A's had among the most momentum heading into the world playoffs.

Both teams met in the second round. The A's admitted they believed their team was stacked and ready, and their doctrine had set them up to a 3-2 lead entering the 4th. Just then, Shimakaze stormed for 6 runs that inning, then followed up with a 7-run outburst in the 5th, exhausting through four A's pitchers before Jason Winkler finally put the mess under control. It was too late, as the beleaguered A's, despite putting up 4 runs in the 7th, ended up losing 15-9.

Season 84 and 85: Sleeping Beasts

That offseason, A's began looking into ways to revamp the roster. They began looking into redeveloping the hitting core, now with an increased emphasis on defense. Despite this, the changes would not be enough, as the pitching continue to suffer, culminating in a humiliating Alta Canyon League first round exit to the 7th seed St. Louis Birds on a Bat.

Meanwhile, Shimakaze used virtually all their World Series winnings on acquiring a generational pitching talent in Conor Hoyle, a start in a new direction of the franchise towards high-octane and expensive pitching. Hoyle completely drowned his opponents with his fastball-slider-changeup combo, his s84 regular season performance proved to be one of the best in FB history. By the playoffs however, he was completely gassed, and ended up requiring all of Shimakaze's 11 runs to earn a first round victory. Despite soundly defeating Boston Monarchs in the second round (which sadly ended up being Monarchs' last game before folding), Shimakaze was deprived of back-to-back league titles through a shocking upset by the newly formed upstart Indianapolis Wolfpack.

Speaking of Wolfpack, their inflammatory behavior began getting on the nerves of many of the big FB owners, especially Shimakaze and the now renamed Hipponax. The two ended up starting a defensive pact, along with many other FB owners, to defend their players from WP's aggressive and ludicrous bids. Shimakaze and Hipponax from then on out began to work closely together, assisting each other with trades, and setting aside differences to stymie a common enemy.

Hipponax continued to improve their roster in the Season 84 off-season. They gained young fireballers Roger Noe and Pacorro Laureano in trades, as the addition to the new rating of velocity assisted in the development of a new pitching philosophy. To support their new arms, Hipponax began experimenting and seeking high-defense rated players that would still be a lethal threat to the offense. Even then, Hipponax now had a goal in mind to pursue a high-end pitching staff.

Meanwhile, Shimakaze also continued to bolster the starting rotation, adding Geoffrey Lilly in the same off-season. Like Oakland, Honolulu pursued high control, high movement pitchers with less emphasis on velocity, and a 21-year old Lilly displayed that perfectly. Leading a big three of him, Haden Belton, and Jon Gaddis, Shimakaze continued to display pitching dominance for the third consecutive season.

However, it wasn't even good enough to win the division, as even with a 45-15 record, Shimakaze finished 2nd to the surprising Shreveport Captains. Honolulu proceeded to embarrass itself in the 1st round of that Wild Card playoffs to the 8th seeded Green Bay Kaukauna Foxes. Not good. Hipponax meanwhile won their respective division title, but nevertheless got eliminated by the 6th seeded Charleston Battery once again due to underwhelming pitching. Disheartened, but not yet defeated, teams went back to the drawing board.

The Season 85 off-season for Shimakaze was largely marked by the beloved franchise icon 3B Isaias Casey beginning his retirement tour, later joined by legendary ace P Alberto Cardenas, but changes in the pitching staff continued, as an additional young arm in P Chaz Ellis continued to confirm Shimakaze's pitching philosophy. The same scouts that found Ellis also dug up diamonds in the rough SS Tylor Jack and LF Josh Gay.

Hipponax meanwhile was more aggressive in fighting Wolfpack's growing belligerence, made the biggest splashes yet. They added framing master C Kane Furlong along with a new arm in P Darrion Wilkinson, who also had triple 90s potential. For the next two seasons, Hipponax would attempt to develop their current players acquired in this crucial off-season. A major news headliner during this offseason was that the Los Angeles Lions were dismantling. This further bolstered Oakland's roster with veteran stars, the biggest being LF Jordan Chavis.

Season 86: Rematch

Season 86 made history: it was the first season both Hipponax and Shimakaze competed in the same league, that being the short-lived Alpine Sound. Both teams once again made the playoffs, and for the first time since Season 83, the two teams squared off in an elimination game. This time, it was a first round matchup between the 6th seed Shimakaze vs the 3rd seed Hipponax. As their ace, Hoyle got the start for Shimakaze, but was up until this point a known playoff choker. That changed this game. After giving up a homer in the 2nd, Hoyle was masterful the rest of the game, mowing down Oakland's lineup as Shimakaze's bats offered 6 runs for the eventual 6-2 Shimakaze victory. Hipponax would have to seek revenge another time, while Shimakaze would end up losing to the eventual World Runner-up Buffalo Bisons in the 2nd round.

It was in the offseason that the biggest shockwave in this story so far occurred. The sudden news of Los Angeles Lions folding led to Shimakaze acquiring hyped 3B star Cuarto Curiel in a trade. They were not done there however. At the very, very last second of free agency, Shimakaze snatched P Isaac Barkley and P Johnny Staples, two triple 90s potential pitchers, from Lions and their sub-team Oceanside Waves. Both pitchers were entering their prime, and on that note, were given absolute max offers from Wolfpack. Shimakaze patiently bid their time and money and nabbed them away from Indianapolis at the last second. The final price tag? $215 million.

...What?!

Meanwhile, Hipponax had put full confidence in the belief that fielding was an underrated rating in the game, setting out a new doctrine to pursue gold glovers to compliment the pitching staff. There were no significant changes in the roster besides the addition in yet another outstanding pitcher in Oro Cortes. With few fielder changes, they continued to put faith in low fielding rating players like RF Saul Almanza because to put it simply, they could rake.

Season 87: The More Things Change...

The three heads of Bisons, Hipponax, and Shimakaze created an unbelievably strong Alpine Sound in Season 87. Shimakaze's new big three of Hoyle, Barkley, and Staples led the team to an impressive 47 win season. That would have been enough to be first seed in any other league except Delta Premier, yet Shimakaze finished a surprising 3rd, behind Hipponax's 53 wins and Bisons' 54 wins, both of which set franchise records. A highly anticipated matchup was awaiting in the league finals that year, yet in the era of a one-game playoff, no team reached the league finals. In the first round, Bisons' pitching collapsed as they fell 9-6 to the 8th seed Valencia Dragon Shrimp, while a similar story happened to Shimakaze at the hands of St. Johns Peace Sharks. The 4th seed Washington Nationals meanwhile fell victim to a shutout, making Hipponax the only high seed that season to advance to the 2nd round, where they promptly got denied by Peace Sharks.... sssss yikes.... But it wasn't all in vain however. The eventual World Champion that season was Chicago Ohawks, who was essentially the brainchild of both Shimakaze's and Hipponax's doctrines, among other teams.

Shimakaze's acquisition of high-profile pitchers in the previous offseason set many teams to scramble to meet the new threat. San Diego Giants in particular began their own process of handing out prospects for their own triple 90's big three, while Hipponax, while not as aggressively searching for those high-profile pitchers, instead spent the offseason looking for better defensive fielders, acquiring SS Jesus Abrams, 2B Jovani Milligan, and LF Declan Ryan. Shimakaze's pockets were burned from the previous offseason, and for now remained content with their roster heading into Season 88.

Season 88: The More They Stay the Same

Alpine Sound was abolished in Season 88, and most of those active teams including Shimakaze and Hipponax were moved to Alta Canyon, a league that both teams remember fondly (both teams have league titles in Alta). Many roster changes were made in the season. Hipponax's veteran RF Almanza was barely hitting above the Mendoza line after 10 games and was eventually traded away to Shimakaze, as a better fielder in Aurelio Zarate replaced him. That trade brought in high potential slugger LF Jonah Wheaton, and with the pitching led by Wilkinson, Cortes, Laureano, and new addition Don Frazier, Hipponax cruised to 50 wins for the second straight season. Shimakaze's pitching likewise maintained pace, as Gaddis, Staples, Barkley, and Ellis all performed masterfully, but nevertheless struggled batting for most of the season. It was only the late-season folding of Osaka Orenji that brought in 3B Marquez Rojo, 2B Leonard Taylor, and CF Guillermo Ornelas that Shimakaze finally obtained the offensive spark they needed, ending the season on an 11-game winning streak.

Hipponax's game with the 8th seeded Arlington Rangers turned out to be a high-scoring one, as while Wilkinson couldn't get the runs under control, big offensive games from longtime 1B Marco Martinez and new C Ali Coyne won them the game 10-7. Shimakaze as the 4th seed had to face the inactive yet still reigning World Runner-up Peoria Massacre. A thriller of a game, Hoyle could also not get runs down, as he was pulled after 7 innings giving up 5 runs. Shimakaze's underwhelming offense managed to keep pace, managing to tie it at 5 that 7th inning with a Rojo double. In the 8th inning, SS Mo Dodson slipped an RBI single through the middle, pushing it to 6-5, and reliever Tom Frank made sure it stayed that way in the 9th, managing a victory with all the momentum.

Again, Shimakaze and Hipponax met in the 2nd round. Another game in the legendary rivalry... or so we thought until Taylor and 1B Videl Ballesteros led the game off with back to back homers. Shimakaze's bats apparently forgot they were supposed to be underwhelming, as they torched Oakland's pitching for 11 runs that afternoon. Meanwhile, Barkley thoroughly outmatched the Hipponax offense, throwing a complete game of 1-run ball, while striking out 11. The narrative that Oakland never beats Honolulu reached its highest validity at this point: 0-3 vs Shimakaze in the playoffs. Honolulu rode that momentum to the league championship, scoring another 8 runs in a victory over Vancouver Okanagan Heat and probably would have rode it past St. Johns Deadly Sins if it weren't for Rene Choi's disastrous 6-run 4th inning in the World's First Round.

Once again, another Oakland defeat at the hands of Honolulu, but instead of animosity, they turned their heads against the now infamously hated Wolfpack, who was throwing $100 million bids left and right, including at Bisons' RF Pancho Roldan and 1B Franco Ramos. This bill was one of the main reasons Bisons temporarily left out of frustration, but offseason trades to Hipponax made sure the two players were out of Wolf's hands (Shortly after, Hipponax traded Ramos to Stamford Demo Yankees).

Even with another league championship at their backs, Shimakaze once again did not sit idle with the roster. To add to their staff, the manager went all in and first snatched aging Giants' triple 90s pitcher Jaquan Kerns. Then, knowing players with Wolfpack bids were unpopular, they acquired young triple 90s pitcher Ahmed Banner from San Jose Panthers. The news of a super pitching rotation spread rather quickly, especially throughout the Discord Server. Chants of "We Are a Super Team" erupted in Honolulu. Shimakaze rapidly just acquired 5 of the top 8 pitchers in the world at the time.

Hipponax, Giants, and to a lesser extent Spokane Warriors scrambled to match the super rotation. Indeed, Season 89 was one of the most anticipated in recent memory...

Originally posted at Island Wind Digest

News Conversation
Fury : 
Probably, not shaming on my Stanford friends here
5 months ago
Fury : 
You are a crazy good writer, better than anyone here
5 months ago
You know what, I need to post my WS article here
5 months ago
agreed lol
5 months ago
That was the best article Ive seen
5 months ago
DBucs : 
Awesome article
5 months ago
Codfish : 
Good job man
5 months ago
Fury : 
The season's opening day is sponsored by Liberty Mutual
5 months ago
cant wait for the season to start
5 months ago
Great Article!
5 months ago
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