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Old 08-04-2019, 04:23 PM   #151
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: when the football gods summon cap hell...
Here we go again, another off-season! We're getting ready for the 80th amateur draft in IHOF history, and subsequently for us as well. Although technically, we kind of skipped the 2067 draft, as we traded away all our draft picks.

We're going into this off-season with a truck load of cap space. Negative cap space. We're $68.81M over the $463.8M salary cap, before the signing of rookies, which by league office number crunchers should account for $15.2M. It's faulty number, given that we've already got 49 players signed and only the two most expensive draft picks will count towards the salary cap, but such is the life with people who can't do math correctly.

It doesn't change the fact that we're in deep cap trouble. Even before the contract talks with the likes of Ellis McAlister, Kirk Hitchcock and three of our five starting offensive linemen, all asking for a better contract. Especially McAlister and Hitchcock won't come cheap. But after some of my own number crunching, I'm optimistic that we should be able to make some contract renegotiations, which fit within the players' request, combined with a couple of hard, but unavoidable cuts, to free up about $110M of cap space, which should put us about $40M under the cap, $25M if we take into account the horrible way the league's number crunchers apply rookie contracts to the cap figure projections.

Roster cuts? Yes. I've made up my mind and plan on releasing 5 players to open up about $50M of cap space. One of them has been informed about his release today. Four others aren't safe either, but I'm waiting for the other renegotiations to see how much room there is to keep those four guys around. In essence, releasing them still means we'll have to fill those roster spots with new players, of close to similar skills.

Our draft day trade from last season worked out in out favor, we ended up trading down from the 1.22 pick for the 2.1 pick in the 2084 draft, while in the previous draft trading up from the 2.23 pick to the 1.22 pick. Yes, we robbed the Bordeaux Vineyards there.

We didn't rob the Gothenburg Giants. Despite sweeping them last season, their total number of losses in other games was 2 in 17 games. They ended up winning IHOF Bowl LXXX, to claim the first league title for the franchise. Good for them. We plan no continuing that streak though, and this season, we'll plan on being the best in the division and hopefully live up to the hype that went around our team at the end of the previous pre-season...
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:21 PM   #152
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen release Nadell
Dennis Nadell has been released by the Maassluis Merchantman. The 11th season former undrafted wide receiver was cut after his least productive season to date. Nadell is a three-time 1,000-yard receiver, twice being the leading receiver for the Merchantmen.

"A tough decision," said Merchantmen general manager M.IJ.B., "but the cap situation forced our hand to release a couple of players and Dennis Nadell today became the victim." Nadell was due a $7,29M salary this season, while the Merchantmen were just barely under the cap after a spree of renegotiations. After a season with just 6 receptions for 140 yards, it was a tough, but fair decision.

Nadell joined the Merchantmen shortly before training camp 2074 as a 20-year old undrafted rookie free agent. He won a roster spot in a crowded receivers group including 4 former 1,000-yard receivers. Mid-season, he was promoted from an inactive roster filler to the WR3 role, playing next to eventual Hall of Famer J.R. Mills. From there on, Nadell was a starter on the Merchantmen, improving to WR2 duties in 2079 ahead of former first round pick Brody Stevens. In 2080, after Mills retired, Nadell became the WR1 ahead of Stevens. In 2082, Theodore Bondy entered the scene, jumping in as the WR1 from his first day in the league. Nadell quickly started losing targets, despite on paper still being the WR2. Last season, Nadell's role was back to WR3 duties, on an offense featuring much less Three-receiver formations, while mentoring the amazingly talented Bondy.

Unless Nadell returns at some point, he'll walk away with 414 receptions for 6,401 yards and 38 touchdowns. His 15,46 yards per reception is second best amongst long-term starting receivers, only trailing to his longtime teammate J.R. Mills. Nadell is only the sixth undrafted rookie signing by the Merchantmen to start 100 or more games for them and only the fourth of those to be on roster for 10 or more seasons.

Nadell's ability to get open is widely recognized as one of the best in the league, even after 10 seasons. Opposite J.R. Mills, Nadell drew a lot of double coverage with his skills, helping Mills to have that Hall of Fame worthy career. His skills may have been underutilized the last couple of seasons opposite Bondy, but Nadell never complained about lack of playing time. Given his unique skill set, he should have no trouble finding a new home for the 2084 season.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:59 PM   #153
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2084, off-season of head crunching
Sometimes a football team can be so loaded with talent, that some of those guys start thinking they aloe deserve ten percent of the available cap figure. It gets trickier when there's a hand full of those guys.

Such is the life in the Merchantmen general manager office this season. We've got a quarterback on the last year of contract, while the best cornerback in the game in the last year of contract has decided to hold out. I'm in negotiations with the agents of our All-IHOF guard Carlos Webb and have a situation at our offensive tackle position with two veterans and a second year guy eager to step in at left tackle. We may have a decision to make about our old left tackle Louie Murray... Our draft actually created a similar situation at the guard position, with two proven veterans and young promising second round pick. Luxury problems, I know...

Oh yeah, draft. We were sitting without a first round pick, as naturally, we still managed to grab one of the top 5 non-kickers of this draft, a slightly undersized guard named Michael Szott from Clemson. He's all around a very good player, in potential top10 in the league, we're expecting him to enter training camp very green. Our second second round pick we used on a new kicker: Thomas Robertson from Kansas State. Our staff thinks he's already close to on par with the guy we had, with a lot of potential to become the best kicker in the game, sweet.

What else did we get? A green but promising pass rusher or two in defensive end Jorge Marone and defensive tackle A.J. Ritt. Both will probably come in at a very unpolished state. We got a new third down back in Monty Digler, a new sixth linebacker in Daquan Forbes and potential dimeback in Courtney Blackwell, who turns out to be a very good punt returner as well, a bonus that we actually didn't really grab him for, given that we've already extended the contracts of our restricted free agent return specialists Gabe Broady and Travis Gellings. The latter probably has to expect to lose the premier role to back from injured reserve Ross Willbrandt, his eye condition is reportedly fully healed.

We've been very quiet on the free agency market. So far, zero players signed. Lack of cap space is a very logical reason.

Trading? Why, yes. We traded our third linebacker Darien Stokes to the Williamsburg Colonials for a future third round pick. The plan is to have Jermaine Page or Billy Springer move into the role. Aforementioned rookie Daquan Forbes might have a slight shot at it as well, as does our special teamer Skip Keith.

The bad news about our cap situation is that I've made a decision on four long time roster members. Third down back Raul Curie (104 games), defensive tackle Chandler Posante (95 games), defensive end Max Lyons (109 games) and safety Maurice Harkleroad (151 games) won't make our training camp roster. All four were no full time starters, but had a prominent role anyway in rotation duties. They join Dennis Nadell (159 games) into the unsigned player pool. These moves should give us the cap space required to extend the contracts of Kirk Hitchcock and Ellis McAlister. Always a sad day to release players, but, y'know, cap space.

Things will get uglier next off-season, when Theodore Bondy's contract needs an extension. The only one to blame is the people that keep drafting these top-notch players.

Let's just hope we actually go place this upcoming season, to make it all worth all those hundreds of millions of dollars. If Hitchcock and McAlister sign a new contract with us...
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 08-09-2019 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:49 PM   #154
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Hitchcock extends for 260M
Maassluis Merchantmen fans can go back to sleep at night, worrying is no longer necessary. Today, the Merchantmen called a press conference in which Kirk Hitchcock's new five-year contract worth $260 million with a $67 million signing bonus. Hitchcock had been holding out since the end of the draft, but signed the new deal just in time for training camp.

Hitchcock was happy, although signed for a $23 million cap figure this season, it will make him the highest paid cornerback in each of the next four seasons.

Merchantmen management was relieved. The release of no less than five veteran players was required to find the cap room for this new contract. "Tough decisions, but Hitchcock is the future of this defense," said general manager M.IJ.B..

After this deal, the Merchantmen have roughly $4 million left in cap space, which they will likely need to extend quarterback Ellis McAlister's contract, who once again is in the final year of contract.
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:12 PM   #155
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Training Camp 2084 Results
Hitchcock re-signed, and we've got a bit of cap space remaining. We'll wait until after our first pre-season game and then start talking with Ellis McAlister and other players in the final year of contract.

Oh yeah, training camp. Here are the results, roughly.
Quarterbacks
60/60 QB Ellis McAlister
30/30 QB Karsten Muchnick
25+/30+ QB Kelly Blalock
Backfield
45+/50 RB Leonard Belin
30+/35 RB Monty Digler (R)
25/25 RB Ronald Graham
50/50 FB Tristan Cochrane
20/20 FB Darien Latschaw
Receivers
60/60 TE Monty Elliott
40/40 TE Gavin Stern
35/35 TE Nicholas Grundy
25/25 TE Kody Gowan
20+/35 TE Miles Barker (R)
20+/35- TE Artie Walton (R)
80/80 WR Theodore Bondy
45/45 WR Artie Blazewicz
40/40 WR Rico Techen
30/30 WR Riddick Bunting
30/30 WR/KR Ross Willbrandt
25+/30 WR Grant Herndon (R)
20+/20 WR/KR Travis Gellings
Offensive Line
75/75 C Butch Pearson
65/65 G Harvey Hank
60/60 G Carlos Webb
40++/75 G Michael Szott (R)
50/50 LT Louie Murray
50/50 RT Oscar Meadows
35++/60 LT Nathan Hadinger
25+/35 C Mario Bromley (R)
15+/35+ C Anthony Probin (R)
Special Teamers
60++/85 K Thomas Robertson (R)
70/70 P Tito Hornsby
40++/50 K Dominic Patton (R)
20/20 LS Santiago Sepanski
Defensive Line
80/80 DT Heath Oliver
55/55 DT Glen Stiegler
45+/45 DE Andy Russell
45/45 DE Gino Kemp
40/40 DT Erik Shrader
25+/45- DE Jorge Marone (R)
25+/40+ DT A.J. Ritt (R)
30/30 DE Ezekiel Wylie
Linebackers
75/75 MLB Craig McCorkle
65/65 OLB Glenn Brewer
30+/40 OLB Billy Springer
20++/35 OLB Daquan Forbes
30/30 OLB Skip Keith
25/25 MLB Jermaine Page
Secondary
80/80 CB Kirk Hitchcock
70/70 S Bart Guthrie
50/50 CB Tre Poloski
30+/45 S Alexander Marty
35++/40 S Emmitt Miller
35/35 CB Gino Morton
35/35 S Rex McIndoe
20+/25- CB/PR Courtney Blackwell (R)
20+/20 CB/PR Gabe Broady

Yes, this is rounded up or down to 5s and 10s. We shouldn't share the complete scouting reports. Plus (+) or minus (-) denotes increase or decrease of what our staff thinks of these players. A double plus (++) denotes great progress. Rookies are marked with an "R" in brackets.

Also, two rookie kickers? Yes, It's early, but we might even keep them both. Robertson is potentially the best field goal kicker in the league. Patton is a kickoff guy. He's no Al Bettis, but he's pretty good. We'll see how that goes in pre-season.

We're going into pre-season with 57 players signed, which means only four players won't make the cut down to 53. Half of it will likely come from the six tight ends on roster. There's a modest chance we'll release one of the two rookie centers and then it comes down to whether we feel like keeping two kickers or whether some player turns out to be completely out of shape and unworthy of a roster spot.

The latter will come first, only 2 days from now. Anticipation...
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:32 PM   #156
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Your 2084 Merchantmen
The verdict is out, we have trimmed their roster down to 53 players. Merchantmen fans, here is your team for the 2084 season. Starting with the latest additions, going all the way down to the longest standing team members.

81 WR Grant Herndon ≈ 25/30
acquired: 2084 undrafted rookie
role: 5th wide receiver

49 TE Miles Barker ≈ 25/30
acquired: 2084 undrafted rookie
role: 3rd tight end, special teamer

73 C Mario Bromley ≈ 25/35
acquired: 2084 undrafted rookie
role: 8th lineman

57 LB Daquan Forbes ≈ 20/35
acquired: 2084 draft 7th round
role: 6th linebacker

99 DT A.J. Ritt ≈ 25/40
acquired: 2084 draft 6th round
role: 8th defensive lineman

31 CB Courtney Blackwell ≈ 20/30
acquired: 2084 draft 5th round
role: 1st punt returner, 7th defensive back

21 RB Monty Digler ≈ 30/35
acquired: 2084 draft 4th round
role: third down back

97 DE Jorge Marone ≈ 25/40
acquired: 2084 draft 3rd round
role: 7th defensive lineman

11 K Thomas Robertson ≈ 65/75
acquired: 2084 draft 2nd round
role: kicker

72 G Michael Szott ≈ 45/70
acquired: 2084 draft 2nd round
role: 6th offensive lineman

13 WR Travis Gellings ≈ 20/25
acquired: 2083 undrafted rookie
role: alternate kickoff returner, 7th wide receiver

54 LB Billy Springer ≈ 25/35
acquired: 2083 draft 7th round
role: 3rd linebacker, special teamer

45 S Alexander Marty ≈ 35/45
acquired: 2083 draft 5th round
role: 8th defensive back

66 LT Nathan Hadinger ≈ 35/60
acquired: 2083 draft 2nd round
role: starting left tackle

40 S Bart Guthrie ≈ 70/70
acquired: 2083 draft 1st round
role: starting strong safety

91 DT Heath Oliver ≈ 80/80
acquired: 2083 draft 1st round
role: all downs defensive tackle

76 LS Santiago Sepanski ≈ 20/20
acquired: 2083 veteran free agent
role: long snapper

10 TE Nicholas Grundy ≈ 35/35
acquired: 2083 veteran free agent
role: 4th tight end

83 WR Ross Willbrandt ≈ 25/25
acquired: 2082 undrafted rookie
role: kickoff returner, 6th wide receiver

29 RB Leonard Belin ≈ 50/50
acquired: 2082 draft 6th round
role: starting running back

52 DE Andy Russell ≈ 45/45
acquired: 2082 draft 5th round
role: starting left defensive end

4 QB Kelly Blalock ≈ 25/30
acquired: 2082 draft 4th round
role: stuck on the depth chart behind our stupid kick holder

46 S Emmitt Miller ≈ 40/45
acquired: 2082 draft 2nd round
role: starting free safety

80 WR Theodore Bondy ≈ 75/75
acquired: 2082 draft 1st round
role: best wide receiver in the league

56 LB Skip Keith ≈ 20/20
acquired: 2082 veteran free agent
role: special teamer, 5th linebacker

37 CB Gabe Broady ≈ 20/20
acquired: 2081 undrafted rookie
role: punt returner, hopefully stays off the field the rest of the time

18 TE Gavin Stern ≈ 40/40
acquired: 2081 undrafted rookie
role: run blocking tight end

79 DE Ezekiel Wylie ≈ 30/30
acquired: 2081 undrafted rookie
role: 3rd defensive end, special teamer

88 WR Riddick Bunting ≈ 25/25
acquired: 2081 draft 7th round
role: 4th wide receiver, special teamer

22 FB Tristan Cochrane ≈ 50/50
acquired: 2081 draft 5th round
role: starting fullback

39 CB Tre Poloski ≈ 50/50
acquired: 2081 draft 1st round
role: sidekick of Hitchcock

32 CB Kirk Hitchcock ≈ 80/80
acquired: 2081 draft 1st round
role: best cornerback in the league

87 WR Artie Blazewicz ≈ 45/45
acquired: 2080 draft 6th round
role: wide receiver #2, alternate kickoff returner

92 DE Gino Kemp ≈ 45/45
acquired: 2080 draft 5th round
role: pass rushing defensive end

93 DT Erik Shrader ≈ 40/40
acquired: 2080 draft 4th round
role: rotation backup on defensive line

75 C Butch Pearson ≈ 75/75
acquired: 2080 draft 1st round
role: starting center

7 QB Karsten Muchnink ≈ 30/30
acquired: 2079 undrafted rookie
role: kick holder, stealing snaps from our QB2

59 LB Jermaine Page ≈ 15/15
acquired: 2079 draft 6th round
role: 4th linebacker, special teamer

53 LB Craig McCorkle ≈ 75/75
acquired: 2079 draft 1st round
role: starting middle linebacker

23 RB Ronald Graham ≈ 25/25
acquired: 2078 undrafted rookie
role: change of pace back

85 WR Rico Techen ≈ 35/35
acquired: 2078 draft 6th round
role: third wide receiver

27 FB Darien Latschaw ≈ 20/20
acquired: 2077 post-season free agent
role: backup fullback

50 LB Glenn Brewer ≈ 65/65
acquired: 2077 draft 1st round
role: starting outside linebacker

36 CB Giovanni Morton ≈ 35/35
acquired: 2076 undrafted rookie
role: nickelback

15 TE Monty Elliott ≈ 50/50
acquired: 2076 draft 6th round
role: starting tight end

70 G Harvey Hank ≈ 60/60
acquired: 2076 draft 1st round
role: left guard

42 S Rex McIndoe ≈ 35/35
acquired: 2075 post-season free agent
role: backup safety, dimeback

74 G Carlos Webb ≈ 55/55
acquired: 2075 draft 3rd round
role: right guard

96 DT Glen Stiegler ≈ 55/55
acquired: 2075 draft 1st round
role: starting defensive tackle

69 LT Louie Murray ≈ 40/40
acquired: 2074 draft 6th round
role: backup left tackle

9 QB Ellis McAlister ≈ 60/60
acquired: 2074 draft 6th round
role: franchise quarterback

17 P Tito Hornsby ≈ 70/70
acquired: 2071 undrafted rookie
role: punter

65 OT Oscar Meadows ≈ 40/40
acquired: 2071 draft 1st round
role: starting right tackle (for now...)
__________________
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-24-2019, 08:56 AM   #157
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: 25% regular season check (and we thought 2083 was bad...)
It's official: the pre-season favorites to win it all are a disgrace to football. The 2084 Maassluis Merchantmen are incapable of putting a passing game on the pitch. It's a major letdown, given that we're counting heavily on the best wide receiver in football, and a quarterback that just recently signed yet another cap heavy contract. We're completely baffled about how the staff and I are so incompetent of making this fine collection of players on offense play well.

So, four games in, we're 2-2, with two 3-point victories and a couple of defeats that were completely uncalled for with a team like we have. The defense will probably claim they're doing a better job that last season. Obviously, those guys were in the bottom 2 teams (or thereabouts) of the entire league. These guys are still giving up the most yards per pass attempt, by nearly a yard more than the second worst. So yeah, improved? Not quite...

How did we get to 2-2? We beat the Bordeaux Vineyards at home, in a game where we got outplayed, then the defense made just enough stops to win 20-17 at the Outer Banks Ospreys. We then travelled to Atlanta, to come away with a 23-17 deficit that could have gotten a lot worse. We had 3.1 yards per passing play (rounded up), and followed up with 3.9 yards per pass play at the North Plainfield Plague. These four opponents combine for a league easiest schedule after four games.

How incompetent does that sound? Four games in, our average is a league most horrendous 5.3 yards per attempt, with the fourth worst sack percentage. There are no words to describe how puzzling that is. Our red zone offense is dreadful, the only thing really missing is a truck load of turnovers, albeit we did see Ellis McAlister throw an all-time regular season game worst of 4 in a single game.

What to do now? I guess we'll have to go to the film room, not just for a bit, but quite a long time to try to figure out why we've got the worst passing game and worst pass defense. Because quite frankly, getting together a team with the best of the best in football at key positions, apparently that isn't enough to play well, let alone win games. And to be honest, I don't think we've seen the worst of it quite yet...
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 08-24-2019 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 09-04-2019, 12:47 PM   #158
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Editor's note: overall lack of understanding how the [bleep] game planning works, has skyrocketed my disinterest in the game to unprecedented levels. I'm not going to throw 80 seasons of history away, but my puzzled attitude about how what is supposed to be best for my team doesn't make the team win at all, makes it a lot harder to get myself interested, let alone motivated, to write about what is turning out to be or worst season in 50 seasons. Very unsatisfying, given how well I have drafted and thought I had built the best roster in those 80 seasons of history.
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Old 09-14-2019, 09:06 AM   #159
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Disappointing season comes to an end
2084... A season to forget, quickly.

We finished the season 7-9, with a positive points differential, at the last moment surpassing the Gothenburg Giants to avoid a fourth place finish inside the division by sweeping the division in Oranje Haven for the first time in the '80s. The French teams both made the playoffs. A ghost owned Paris Musketeers team won the division, the Bordeaux Vineyards ended a long streak of seasons without post-season play. Paris beat Bordeaux in the wild card round. Paris then deservingly crushed out the next round, ghost owned teams get no cheers from the Merchantmen management.

Winning the last two games avoided our first double-digit loss figure since the 2033 season. Imagine that, having a team touted as pre-season favorites to win it all (for the second season straight), stumbling into a 5-11 or 6-10 record! How mindboggling would that have been. Now, we're just the best 53 players in the league that managed to go 16-17 in the last two seasons. Still dreadful, just not indescribably horrific.

We've entered the 2085 off-season, losing two staff members. Our defensive coordinator J.J. Wolfe shockingly got hired by the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums as their new head coach. Our strength coordinator Martin Devine for 15 seasons decided to move to the reigning league champion Williamsburg Colonials, despite still having a long-term contract with us. Losing Devine hurt, Wolfe though, he failed to make our loaded defense play well. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise...

Tight end Monty Elliott retired after 9 seasons of service. We grabbed him in the sixth round of the 2076 draft, lived up to his then scouted potential. In 2082 peaked with 1,101 receiving yards and All IHOF (first team) honors. Like everybody else on the offense, he struggled the last two seasons. Despite that, he's retiring with 572 receptions for 6,517 yards and 47 touchdowns. His catches and yardage are new franchise records for tight ends. His touchdown figure is third to the late '50s tandem Jorge Jurevicius and Emmanuel Forbes. With 43 key run blocks, he's second to Jurevicius in that figure amongst tight ends.

Wide receivers Dennis Nadell and Brody Stevens were also amongst the retiring players. Neither was on roster last season, we've let them both go in recent seasons. They rank 13th and 10th all-time in receiving yards for the Merchantmen. Both played a WR2 role for us for several years, with many 1,000-yard seasons on their resume, even both reaching that 1,000-yard mark in 2080, the season after J.R. Mills retirement and two ahead of the arrival of Theodore Bondy.

Defensive tackle Chandler Posante was a bit of a surprise retirement. Granted, we released him in the 2084 off-season and somehow didn't find a roster spot elsewhere. Apparently other teams in the league don't think a pass rusher like Posante was worth signing. He played 95 games for us (including the playoffs), usually splitting time with other defensive linemen, but being prominent on passing downs, next to Glen Stiegler.

We're entering the off-season nearly $25M over the cap, $47.72M after taking draft picks into account. That's modest, but we'll have to find another $40M or so to be able to extend Theodore Bondy's contract. Elsewhere, I'm expecting us to find the cap space to not need any major cuts, like we had to go through in recent off-seasons.

We're picking nineth overall in the first round of the 2085 draft. Shockingly high for a team with our record, points differential and status. Had we lost either of our last two games when we were out of contention, we would have moved up to 8th in the draft order, a testament of why tanking rarely helps. Which is something we'll never ever do anyway, making it a moot point to begin with. And given that three of the three most notable retirements this off-season were a 6th round pick, an undrafted wide receiver. Brody Stevens indeed was a first round pick, but only 24th overall, so basically lived up to expectations.

So yeah, 2085. A new opportunity. We'll have to see what we can make of this. The talent is there, but we've been such an underwhelming underachieving team for two straight seasons, my expectations have been dampened into thinking we've found a way to waste the best of talent in football. No, we're not going to shop around Theodore Bondy and Kirk Hitchcock, or even Craig McCorkle and Butch Pearson. The crème de la crème of football players on our roster should resparkle their talent and carry the team to where we belong: a deep playoffs run.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:26 AM   #160
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Editor's note: IHOF is on a rare week without any sims.
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Old 09-25-2019, 01:17 PM   #161
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen select top graded OT Humphrey
Top prospect Howard Humphrey has a new home. The big right tackle was taken 9th overall in the 2085 draft by the Maassluis Merchantmen. The Iowa State graduate received a 7.0 grade by the league scouting staff after the 24 year old shined in the rookie combine with a stellar 4.86 40-yard dash. The Merchantmen see Humphrey as the future replacement of veteran Oscar Meadows, currently out of contract. The Merchantmen will probably try to resign Meadows for a 15th season, to compete for the starting job, or at the very least to mentor Humphrey. This continues the Merchantmen's rebuild of the offensive line, as Humphrey joins second-year guard Michael Scott and third-year left tackle Nathan Hadinger, both high second round picks.


Merchantmen grab Andrews as their quarterback of the future
With their second round pick of the 2085 draft, the Maassluis Merchantmen have acquired the rights to the fourth highest rated quarterback of the class: Virginia Tech's Ernest Andrews. The 21-year old impressed the Merchantmen coaching staff after he had already impressed all league scouts with solid Solecismic Test and agility test scores. With Ellis McAlister entering his 12th season, it was a good opportunity to look at the future. McAlister looks likely to start for another season or two, but as he knows from first hand experience, the Merchantmen sometimes are willing to be patient and give a promising prospect plenty of time to grow into a starting caliber quarterback. Twice before did the Merchantmen select a quarterback in the second round, Josh Webb hung around for just two seasons, Everett "Going" South hung around for 11 seasons as the second stringer and briefly returned for a 12th season during an injuries plagued season. But Andrews looks eager to jump into the opportunity to become an IHOF quarterback.


Merchantmen grab punter Guynes in third round
The name of Doug Guynes was called earlier than league pundits expected, but the Maassluis Merchantmen haven't been strangers to drafting kickers or punters on the first or second day of the selection procedure. Previously highly drafted punters spent more than 10 seasons with the Merchantmen, which bodes well for the 22-year old from Michigan. It probably means the exit of Tito Hornsby, a former undrafted rookie signing by the Merchantmen, who turned into a stellar punter after all, entering his 15th season in the IHOF as a top10 caliber punter. Hornsby is currently unsigned.
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:27 PM   #162
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: favorites to win it all once again...
Yes, you read that correctly, for the third season in succession, we're tagged top team in the league by the power rankings.

Sometimes you wonder what league pundits were smoking when they cooked up their formula, but I bet the numbers don't lie and we are, in fact, a team with the ingredients to have a wonderful season. Sure, we do, but these last two season have been frustrating, underwhelming, mindboggling and confidence destroying. This team consistently struggles with barely outscoring opponents, unsurprisingly resulting in a Merchantmen unworthy streak of seasons with 6 or more losses.

Should we let our heads down and let the flow keep going? Of course not, we will regroup, do what we can do to keep the hype alive as long as we can for this upcoming season. And we've got our roster of 53 players pretty much ready to get that job done. Let's break the roster down.


Quarterbacks
55/55 QB Ellis McAlister
30/30 KH Karsten Muchnick
15/30 QB Ernest Andrews (rookie)
left team: 25/30 QB Kelly Blalock (cut)
For the seventh season in a row we've counting on Ellis McAlister to get the job done. For the first time, we've seen him decline in the off-season in terms of ability. By now, he should know he's no longer a must-start. But realistically, we don't have a replacement sitting ready. Blalock looked promising, but nothing more than a typical QB2. Our second round pick this draft Ernest Andrews has underwhelmed in training sessions, but looked pretty solid in pre-season action. Odds are, we'll go the McAlister route with Andrews, giving him a reasonable amount of time to learn from the current starter (McAlister) and if he outdoes his current image, we'll give him the same kind of chance that McAlister got. Have I mentioned that Muchnick is our kick holder and nothing but our kick holder? I suspect my staff still hasn't gotten the message and continue to disobey. Although this time around, the kick holder actually looks like the lesser of liabilities.


Backfield
50/50 RB Leonard Belin
50/50 FB Tristan Cochrane
30/35 RB Monty Digler
25/35 RB Reggie Thongchanh (rookie)
30/45 FB Ken Warren (rookie)
left team: 25/25 RB Ronald Graham (cut), 15/15 FB Darien Latischaw (cut)
Ah yes, the ball carriers. Our quarterback actually desires to carry the peanut himself, but Belin, Digler and Thong' are the designated ball carriers. Belin obviously the RB1, but lacking the endurance to be a fulltime workhorse, we're going to need power back Digler and Thong's speed in the change of pace roles. Cochrane continues to be a key blocker on all downs, as such, we'll try to work him into our game plan. Warren looks promising as a run blocker, perhaps even better than Cochrane, but his chances to see action are limited.


Receivers
75/75 WR Theodore Bondy
45/45 WR/KR Artie Blazewicz
30/50 WR Tucker Gaylor (rookie)
30/35 TE Miles Barker
40/40 WR Rico Techen
30/35 TE Jessie Taylor (signed from Fort Wayne)
25/25 WR Riddick Bunting
25/25 TE Nicholas Grundy
25/25 KR Ross Willbrandt
15/25 TE Tyler Kotz (rookie)
out: 50/50 TE Monty Elliott (retired), 40/40 TE Gavin Stern (signed with Iowa), 30/30 WR Grant Herndon (cut), 20/25 KR Travis Gellings (unwilling to re-sign)
Oh, Theo... In 2083 he lived up to the hype of best wide receiver in football, best in franchise history. In 2084, he looked bleak, struggled to get open, catch the ball, get downfield and gain yardage after catch. Mind you, we know he picked up something in the 2084 off-season that hurt him, but he went from best receiver by a landslide to the very best by the slimmest of margins. We want to build this offense around him, but so far, we failed, despite his 4,912 yards receiving in his first three seasons. Big-play receivers Blazewicz, Techen and Willbrandt stuck to be the guys to keep opponents from stacking it all on Bondy. Losing Elliott at the tight end position was tough, also losing Stern was really tough. We've downgraded to run blocking tight ends, it'll be hard to expect anything else from these guys, of whom Barker looks like the best blocker, with acquisition Taylor as the backup. The most interesting player is rookie Gaylor, who might be our steal of the draft. He's got the speed, intelligence and stamina to become a true WR2, but this season he'll be the WR3 and given the state of our tight ends group, might get quite some targets anyway.


Offensive Line
55/65 LT Nathan Hadinger
55/55 G Harvey Hank
70/70 C Butch Pearson
60/70 G Michael Szott
55/70 RT Howard Humphrey (rookie)
45/45 G Carlos Webb
40/40 LT Louie Murray
40/40 RT OScar Meadows
25/35 C Mario Bromley
out: none
Yet another rebuilding of the line is about to be completed. Pearson is already an established starter by now, but Hadinger, Szott and Humphrey are young. Hank will have to bring in the experience on the line. Webb and Murray have turned into one trick lineman, still good enough to be backups. Meadows was kept around with a simple task: mentor Hadinger and Humphrey to become as good as Meadows and Murray were roughly a decade ago. Bromley continues to be an emergency roster filler.


Defensive Line
80/80 DT Heath Oliver
45/45 DT Glen Stiegler
45/45 DE Andy Russell
45/45 DE Gino Kemp
40/40 DT Erik Shrader
30/30 DE Ezekiel Wylie
35/45 DE Manuel Scott (rookie)
30/35 DT A.J. Ritt
out: 30/40 DE Jorge Marone (cut)
Okay, from a distance this looks like Oliver and his side kicks. To a degree, that's true, but Oliver isn't Shaun 'The Behemoth' Hartman or Charles Gomez, he's a tackle machine. In the pass rush, he's almost an afterthought, but it's quite possible we'll put him next to Shrader on passing downs. Stiegler has lost some of his speed, but he's still a nice change of pace guy to have. Russell and Kemp are our speedster on he outside. Wylie and Scott the stamina driven backups. Ritt has he speed and skills to fill in whenever and wherever we need him. A slight disclaimer is that it's no secret we're still trying to sign free agent Wendell Marshall, we think he'll be a pleasant addition to our pass rush, which would free up Russell for the running oriented formations.


Linebackers
75/75 MLB Craig McCorkle
55/55 OLB Glenn Brewer
35/35 OLB Billy Springer
10/10 ST Jermaine Page
20/20 OLB/ST Skip Keith
25/30 OLB Daquan Forbes
The same bunch as last season, nice! Brewer is somewhat on the decline, but with McCorkle as the playmaker in the middle, these guys should be the core of the defense. Springer continues to be our third linebacker. Page is unhappy, but he'll have to do with special teams duties, as does Keith. Forbes is our emergency sixth man, again.


Secondary
80/80 CB Kirk Hitchcock
70/70 S Bart Guthrie
40/40 S Emmitt Miller
50/50 CB Tre Poloski
25/25 CB Giovanni Morton
40/45 S Alexander Marty
15/15 PR Gabe Broady
30/30 S Rex McIndoe
25/30 CB/PR Courtney Blackwell
Another unit with no change in names. Hitchcock and Guthrie are another year older and wiser, hopefully. Both are considered the best in the league at their positions. With guys like Poloski and Miller on their side, this should be an above average secondary. Morton, Marty, McIndoe and Blackwell have the skills to play the nickel and dime roles. Broady has been an elite punt returner in the league.


Special Teamers
55/60 P Doug Guynes (rookie)
80/80 K Thomas Robertson
21/21 LS Santiago Sepanski
out: 70/70 P Tito Hornsby (un-signed)
Last but not least? Robertson has the league to kick long field goals and the accuracy to actually convert them as well. Guynes was our recent third round pick, we hope he can do what Hornsby used to do. The first signs are so-so, but we'll have to do, as we let Hornsby walk away. Sepanski returns for a second season, he should be reliable enough.


So yeah, we've got a lot of stars, especially on defense. This teams should be good. No, better than good. Four of our starters on defense are all-world talent. And the offense? A promising offensive line, a useful quarterback, fast and smart runners. And then there's that one guy, that really special one on our roster. Theo.

C'mon, Theo, 2083 was great, 2084 uncharacteristic. Let's make 2085 sensational. You can do it!
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:09 PM   #163
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Merchantmen sign Marshall, cut Scott
On opening weekend, the Maassluis Merchantmen announced the signing of defensive end Wendell Marshall. The lightning fast defensive end signed a $32M contract earlier in the off season with the Chesapeake Chitterlings, but failed to make their training camp roster. Marshall has hopped around in the IHOF, his first five seasons with the Outer Banks Ospreys, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2079 draft. After his best season there, he held out and was cut on opening day of the 2084 season. In week 3, the Moontown Darksiders added him to their deep defensive line unit. This off-season the Chitterlings changed their minds on him, the Merchantmen saw their opportunity, negotiated for a long time, but eventually found Marshall willing to come to terms on a one-year contract.

To facilitate the signing, undrafted rookie Manuel Scott was released, making Marshall the only defensive player new compared to last season's roster. To find the required cap space, veteran left tackle Louie Murray signed a contract extension, adding a season to his contract, while turning some of his salary into bonus money.
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Old 10-15-2019, 03:56 PM   #164
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General Manager Notes: defensive woes continues, however...
It's not all bad, I suppose?

It's week 8 of the 2085. We just got home from a visit to Paris, France. The Musketeers were our seventh opponent of the regular season, technically the sixth, as we already faced them on opening weekend.

Boy, were we in for a disappointing start of the season then. Some no name rookie quarterback had the best day of his life, tore our secondary apart late in a game that we should have won easily, but instead let our asses get kicked. Theodore Bondy lead the way to a strong offensive performance, but Austin Rodham's 474 yards passing, including a 53-yard hail mary pass, resulted in a 41-34 loss for us, where we could and should have made it to overtime. Alas, Paris was luckier.

The same Musketeers have nowhere been close to that performance in their next five games and today, in week 8, they weren't either. Austin Rodham threw 2 interceptions less, but we kept the Musketeers enough in check to smoothly post a 41-20 victory. Wendell Marshall sacked kiddo Rodham 2.5 times, he had to share one of those sacks with Glen Stiegler.

It's been an up and down season in between these two games. We steamrolled the Frederick Red Menace, at their house, 59-31, despite letting them throw for 447 yards on us. We put quarterback Wesley Elliot on his back 8 times, which was more or less what we expected to do against him.

Week 3 was a smooth 30-20 win at the Toronto Lake Monsters, giving us another chance to beat the future hall of fame quarterback Clayton 'Champ' Andrews one more time. Theodore Bondy was back to his pre 2084 form with 13 catches for 236 yards. Welcome back, Theo.

Week 4 was a disappointing 30-26 loss. The San Antonio Tidal Force dominated early, taking a 13-0 lead, but we came back from behind in the second half. The game went all over the place, but despite that we were clearly the superior team, we failed to put the points on the board on the final drive where we needed a touchdown due to an early game missed extra point.

The bye week didn't resparkle things at all. Despite that we were dominating the Atlanta Vipers, there was this Deon Collier kid, a gifted cornerback with a nose and the hands for a pick or three that day. We choked into a 28-19 deficit, making us 0-3 at home.

But despite our misfortunes, the lack of ability to win games haunted the entire European division.

In week 7, we found ourselves playing at the Fort Worth Fury, facing a very familiar face at quarterback: Kelly Blalock, the fourth year pro that we cut in pre-season. Blalock threw for 358 yards, but also into the hands of Craig McCorkle and Kirk Hitchcock (twice). Those picks were just enough to solidify the 23-15 victory.

So, despite the triplet of frustrating losses in Oranje Haven, we also posted a foursome of road victories to find ourselves smoothly in the division lead:
1. Maassluis 4-3
2. Bordeaux 2-5
3. Gothenburg 2-5
4. Paris 2-5

It's way way way too earlier to draw conclusions, but we've somehow got the second most scoring offense (or team if you like). The bad news? We're giving up a lot of passing yards, the most of all teams. Not just per game, but also on per attempt and per catch basis. Our run defense has been rock solid, forcing teams to pass. Somehow, those quarterbacks overcome all the sacks they're facing.

Still, the season is young, we haven't even reached the mid-way point yet. Next up yet another road game, this time at the 6-1 Houston Mustangs. They've been solid since week 2, including a recent drubbing of the Bordeaux Vineyards. We actually have a lot to gain here though, Houston is currently in the second seed spot in the AOC. Their strength this season? Their running game. That could be a neat game of the week against our league leading run defense. In return, their inferior defense has played way above their heads so far, which if they can keep it up, could be a tough task for McAlister, Theo and Leo.

That's where we're at for now. By the next time I'm reporting, we might be just that game against Houston further down the road, may have lost 9 straight, but hopefully, we've by then fixed the home losing bug and are giving the top seed positions holding teams a run for their slowly fading lead... We have to keep faith in this team, it's still one of the best Merchantmen rosters ever assembled. Make good use of it, staff.
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Old 10-19-2019, 06:52 AM   #165
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: division up for grabs...
It's early, but we've somehow maneuvered, or gotten lucky, into having a 3-win lead on the rest of the division. We don't have tie-breakers over any of them, so it's basically 2 1/2 games, but it's a wide margin.

How did we get there from the 2-win lead that we had after week 8?

Our visit to Houston in week 9 wasn't all that pretty. We managed to come away from there with a 26-24 loss, but in all honestly, we needed a late game drive to get back from 9 points down. The good news? In the end, our offense accumulated more points than theirs did, but a pick six saved their day shortly before half time.

Week 10 started the back-to-back last two divisional home games with a visit of the Bordeaux Vineyards. We gave them opportunities to stay in the game, with fumbles and a pick, but in the end, we were the superior team, leaning heavily on a revived Theo Bondy with 11 catches for 155 yards. Rookie Reggie Thongchanh responded well to a full game on the sidelines, bursting out for 116 yards and a score.

The Gothenburg Giants came to Oranje Haven in week 11. To be blunt, it was no contest. Both the offense and defense clicked on all fronts. As if the Giants have recently became our favorite opponent to play against, after years of fearing them most. Ellis McAlister took full advantage of his on fire wide receivers Theo Bondy (13 catches for 178 yards) and Artie Blazewicz (3 catches for 126 yards and 2 scores). A 75-yard long bomb from McAlister to Blazewicz was our first play on offense, Oranje Haven got an explosion of sound.

Standings week 11:
1. Maassluis 6-4
2. Bordeaux 3-7
3. Gothenburg 3-7
4. Paris 3-7

The wild card cut is currently at 6-4, which means all three of our division foes are 3-wins (minus tie-breakers) behind the playoffs spots. Our hopes for a bye week are pretty much non-existent, Orlando (9-1) and Houston (8-2 plus head-to-head win) are way in front of us, while the current #3 seed is North Plainfield (6-4) with a favorable common games record.

So, 6-4 now. I'm probably repeating myself, but this team looks and feels like it's better than our record, basically an 8-2 team. The remaining schedule is far from a cup cake trail. We've got three games remaining against the 6-4 or better NAC Mid Atlantic teams, a home game against the 5-5 Snapfinger Jazz and visits to Gothenburg and Bordeaux, two teams very eager to play spoiler, providing their playoff chances have vaporized by week 15 and 17 respectively.

Are we living up to the hype of favorites to win it all? Sadly, no. But we've been unable to the previous two seasons as well. The promising news is that usually we're capable of scoring at least 3 touchdowns. The defense seems to be slowly recovering, despite injury woes in our secondary. The run defense continues to be elite, while the pass rush is strong enough to really put the opponents in risky passing situations. Helped by the drubbing of the Giants, we've finally reached the point where our offense outgains the defense in yardage, for as long as that will last...

I am moderately optimistic though, perhaps we have righted the ship and set sail towards quieter waters.
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Old 10-23-2019, 12:45 PM   #166
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Finally, division champions, but we have bigger goals...
5 seasons went by without it. Yes, we reached the playoffs twice, but a division title wasn't our route to the post-season. Until today, week 15 of the 2085 season. We've finally claimed our 31st division crown!

We're still wobbly, we forgot to take a big lead against the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums (yup, we lost yet another close home game), cruised past the Snapfinger Jazz, failed to stop the Chesapeake Chitterlings' passing game and today completed the sweep of the Gothenburg Giants, mathematically they were the last standing rival for the division title.

European Division standings:
1. Maassluis 8-6
2. Bordeaux 5-9
3. Gothenburg 5-9
4. Paris 3-11

Yeah, the division is incredibly bad this season. It won't be the worst ever: in 2021 the European division won 22 games, this season the minimum will be 23. But it will most likely be the worst since that campaign, in which we finished 5-11 far behind the Gothenburg Giants, who won the last four straight en route to their division title with an 8-8 overall record.

With the division locked up and a bye week out of reach (we're 3 wins behind the top two teams in the AOC), we have very little to play for in the last two games. Well, third seed looks more appealing than sixth seed, that's for sure...

Does it matter? Not really, we have bigger goals, despite having lost our left tackle Nathan Hadinger and safeties Alexander Marty and Rex McIndoe. We want to live up to the hype of being pre-season favorites. We severely choked that opportunity twice already, so far we're struggling to live up to it this season as well, but there are some positive signals that we're better than our record. Yeah, I've said that before, but aside from believing it, we really are!

Yes, I still believe in this team. Go Merchantmen!
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Old 10-24-2019, 05:36 PM   #167
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General Manager Notes: Theo! Theo! Theo!
Sometimes things happen in football that you don't see coming and sometimes things you hoped to see happen, well, happen.

With Ellis McAlister limping (a sore knee) and the division title locked up, it was the golden opportunity for us to give Ernest Andrews his first regular season action in a sold out Oranje Haven against the reigning IHOF champions.

And boy, was he nervous? Maybe he was, but nobody noticed. First drive of the game, Andrews scrambles for 8 yards, find Theo Bondy for 20 yards and on the third play executes the Blazewicz special: 47 yards for the a touchdown. The Williamsburg Colonials responded with a quick touchdown drive on their own. Little could the teams on the field and people in the stands presume that they had seen the only two offensive touchdowns of the entire game already.

Amidst the defensive supremacy, Gabe Broady got has revenge with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown, silencing all the critics of him being past his peak. Clearly the fumbles were just a streak of bad luck, Broady was back. Not quite back, but continuing his strong season, Theodore Bondy made 14 catches for 182 yards, making the crowd consistently chant 'Theo! Theo! Theo!"

It must be a pleasure for a young quarterback to come into the league and have the opportunity to have your main target be a guy like Theo. He's already secured his second 2,000 yard season. He'll still need 138 receiving yards to tie J.R. Mills' franchise record, needs 1 receiving touchdown to tie Terry Haskell's. The receptions record is secure already though, he's already 4 catches past his own previous franchise record of 153.

Andrews obviously wasn't the only rookie with a prominent role on the offense today. Reggie Thongchanh had 18 carries for 76 yards, but also pulled his groin and as we'll likely rest him in week 17, will come 11 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark. Right tackle Howard Humphrey continues to be rock solid, 41 key run blocks puts him only 3 behind the league leaders. Tucker Gaylor continues to be our third wide receiver, he's just unlucky that we've decided to throw him in a lot of formations and plays where he's going to be a run blocker or third or fourth receiving option. Obviously we believe strongly in him, he's a fifth round pick after all!

So, week 17 up next and we'll still have something to play for, kind of. Third seed is on the line, a win secures it for us. It's no major issue, but it could be slightly better to be third if we somehow manage to end our one-and-done curse of the past two decades or so. We actually lost in Bordeaux last season, after eight straight wins there. They won't let us cake walk to victory at all.

Still, we just beat the last two IHOF champions in back to back games, that's pretty rare and a huge confidence boost. And 10-6 looks just so much better than 9-7 for a record to go into the post-season. Although, it won't mater at all anymore if we drop out right away, nor does it matter if we manage to win four straight playoffs games en route to a second IHOF Bowl victory. I think we've got the guys to make it happen. That defense with Hitchcock, McCorkle, Brewer, Guthrie, the loaded defensive line, and then the offense with Thong and Belin from behind a strong line anchored by rookie Humphrey, a better than ever before Ellis McAlister and then the guy he loves to throw to.

Theo, go get us that ring.

Theo! Theo! Theo!
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:54 PM   #168
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: Wild wild Wild Card round
Theo!

Boys and girls, the season got extended by another week. In a heavily contested game against the Augusta Greenjackets, we managed to defend Oranje Haven well, with a 34-27 victory.

We stuffed the Greenjackets potent running game often enough to turn their offense into a one dimensional one. From there on, it was a matter of staying put with our own balanced game plan. Leonard Belin ran for 110 yards, with rookie Thong' still unable to carry the load, but once again, the key player of the night was our MVP worthy wide receiver Theodore Bondy. With 16 catches for 241 yards, he was nearly unstoppable all game long. Next stop, the top seeded Orlando Knights. A tough cookie to bite, but we're confident we can beat anybody in this league. Despite our 7 regular season losses. We're in for the upset...
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Old 10-29-2019, 06:28 PM   #169
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General Manager Notes: And then there were four... including us!
We're still going strong!

Boy, oh boy. The Orlando Tallons were quite the test. In fact, we were down on our backs, but somehow recovered late in the fourth quarter to overcome an 11-point deficit, to force overtime and, lo and behold, pull of the upset!

In the first quarter, we had no defense to Orlando's first drive, but responded with the Blazewicz special for a 60-yard gain and saw Leo Belin run it in for a 2-play touchdown drive, only to see our kicker shank the tying kick. Orlando scored another touchdown on their second possession, which were the last points put on the board for the first 15 minutes.

We started the second quarter inside Tallons turf and settled for a field goal to make it 14-9 for Orlando. A goal line stand forced them to go for 3 points, which started another period of defensive supremacy. With the two-minute warning called, we drove downfield, but not efficiently enough to get in the end zone. Still, with a time expiring field goal, we trimmed it to 17-12 at the big break.

Our first possession in the second half didn't go so well. A screen pass from McAlister got picked off near midfield and after the return, we would have been happy to hold them to three, which we failed to do. Down by 12, Theo Bondy had one of his awesome plays where he turned a short pass into a 27 yard gain, shortly after followed by tight end Jessie Taylor going into the endzone from 32 yards out. We stopped Orlando, but found ourselves at our own 8-yard line and after three and out were just happy to pin them back to their own 32-yard line. Jerald Harrison found his receivers Giles and Fields for big gains and once again we were happy to hold them to a field goal, meaning we were trailing 27-19 at the end of the third quarter.

After another short drive, we were struggling against the Tallons' time draining drive that ended up in a 44-yard field goal, meaning an 11-point deficit. On a time draining drive of our own, we had to settle for a 43-yard field goal, with less than 4 minutes remaining. A quick three and out and with one time out used, we were back at our own 25 yard-line with 2:22 remaining. Theo Bondy got the first two big catches for first downs and then with still 84 seconds to go, McAlister completed another Blazewicz special into the endzone. Still down 2 points, we went for the obvious and McAlister somehow found Theo Bondy to tie it up 30-30. Orlando tried, as did we, to thrown to get into field goal range, but both teams got three-and-outed, summoning over time.

We got the ball first and despite that we didn't get all that far, McAlister's scramble was just enough to give Doug Gynes a chances to pin Orlando deep, and we did, all the way to their 1-yard line. After two short runs, our pass rush broke their pass play and a short punt later, we were inside Orlando territory. McAlister found Bondy on back-to-back plays to get into field goal range with a fresh set of downs. Monty Digler shortened the distance, Leo Belin (to my surprise) got the third and short carry and got stuffed deep, but 46 yards proved to be no problem for Thomas Robertson: Merchantmen win! 33-30 in overtime, what a heartbreaker for the Orlando fans, thinking their team was ready to avenge the AOC Championship game loss last season, only to see them trip over one hurdle earlier. Their last bowl appearance and victory remains to be from the 2018 season.

Merchantmen fans were ecstatic across the pond. Ellis McAlister finally got the monkey off his back for not being able to win in the playoffs and now he's finally a true Merchantmen franchise quarterback as he guided his team to the AOC Championship game. Obviously, like the fans, McAlister now wants to prove he can win the conference and get his team to the IHOF Bowl. And the fans have one simple message to McAlister, throw it to Theo, often and well enough for him to be able to catch it. The game plan will be balanced enough to keep the opponent from focusing everything on Bondy. The running game has been solid and Artie Blazewicz has proven to be a dangerous player when he gets room to get downfield.

Flannery, Harrison, McGee, Chow, Lowe, Hickman, Morris and now McAlister. Of all these names, just McGee, Lowe (twice) and Hickman got the Merchantmen into the bowl game, freakishly enough the hall of famers failed at that. For Ellis McAlister, a hall of fame career was pretty much a non issue after sitting out the first five seasons of his career. Getting that championship ring will be that much sweeter after having already seen from the bench how to lose at this stage.

So yes, fans and readers, we're closing in on living up to the hype. We're in the playoffs, deep into it now, where regular season losses no longer count. The AOC Championship game will be contested between the number three and four seeds. All that matters for us, we're one step closer. One game at a time, the North Plainfield Plague are no pushovers, we'll have to bring our A game once again to win our 5th AOC Championship.

Let's go Merchantmen!
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Old 11-03-2019, 11:01 AM   #170
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General Manager Notes: And then... nothing
Indeed, the lack of fanfare was a sign of things gone wrong.

The Atlantic Ocean Conference Championship game turned out to be a game where we ran into the inferiorly talented, yet more effective North Plainfield Plague. Their defense dominated the game and the subsequent IHOF Bowl game en route to a surprise league championship. Well, surprise, they did play like the #1 defense in the regular season. Defense wins championship? It certainly did in the IHOF's 2085 season.

Where does it leave us? Well, fourth best team of the past season, apparently. About on par what I would have considered reasonable towards the kind of team we have, but taking into account how disappointing the previous two seasons and how up and down the regular season was, I'm not particularly happy and convinced that we played below our ability for these past 3 regular seasons. Apparently we're just not as good as we're supposed to be on paper.

The off-season has kicked off and we're down three players due to retirement.

Oscar Meadows hung it up. The best right tackle to ever play for the Maassluis Merchantmen, surely he's Hall of Fame bound. For 13 seasons starting with his rookie campaign he was our right tackle. In 2084 we demoted him to a backup role, last season he was just here to mentor the rookie Howard Humphrey, who clearly fit Meadows' shoes and earned All-IHOF honors. Meadows played in 224 games, starting 213 of those, excluding the 9 playoffs games he started and played in. 380 key run blocks make him 3rd all-time for the Merchantmen, first offensive tackle by a landslide. God speed, Oscar.

Meadows' sidekick Carlos Webb also retired. For 10 seasons he was our starting right guard, just like Meadows, from his rookie season and onwards. Last season he had to ride the bench behind Harvey Hank and Michael Szott. Together, with Meadows and the awesome centers and fullbacks, Webb was part of a tremendous run blocking unit. Webb's last activity was in the two playoffs games that we won last season. In 2083 he had his finest season, with 50 key run blocks, only 2 short of tying the franchise record. Webb ranks fourth all-time in key run blocks for the Merchantmen.

Less spectacular has been the career of Santiago Sepanski. The long snapper was only 3 seasons with us. It means we'll have to look out for a new long snapper. Our staff has considered him as one of the finest to play the game and position in the last decade and a half. Imagine how much more extra points and field goals Thomas Robertson would have missed had we had some other snapper...

In our staff, we were forced to sign a new assistant coach in the 64-year old Willie Sommers. He had been the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Norsemen, a good fit there with his smashmouth preference. It's likely a short-term solution. We re-signed offensive coordinator Neal Murack and kept the rest of the staff as is.

Our cap situation is healthy. Yes, we're $42 million over the cap, but I fully expect us to find a lot of space with renegotiations with several of our superstars. With draft picks taken into consideration, we're projected at $61 million over the cap, holding the #29 pick in each round and having an late extra third round pick. That $61M figure is inaccurate given that we already have 45 players signed. Also, four players are restricted free agents that we'll likely try to re-sign. Biggest puzzle will be to find enough cap space to extend contracts of the fourth-year players DT Heath Oliver, S Bart Guthrie and LT Nathan Hadinger. All three are elite at their respective positions. Also in last year of contract are veterans like QB Ellis MCAlister, G Harvey Hank, DT Glen Stiegler and many, many more, but all of them already have contracts in line with their market value. Guthrie, Hadinger and Oliver are in the last year of their rookie contracts.

The situation with Nathan Hadinger is the toughest. He's still recovering from a hernia and is expected to miss training camp, miss pre-season and is questionable to be recovered in time for opening weekend. Anticipating that, we'll be talking with Louie Murray about a contact extension.

That's what's going on in and around Oranje Haven, in a nutshell. Things are looking good in my opinion.
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:19 PM   #171
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Merchantmen bolster defense in 2086 draft
The trading has returned in Maassluis. The first round of the 2086 draft ended with a delay caused by negotiating representations of the Hanalei Dragons and the Maassluis Merchantmen, resulting in the later moving up from the late second to the last pick of the first round, with cornerback Lee Hancock joining linebacker Daquan Espino as the 2086 first round picks for the Merchantmen.

The first round started with the Toronto Lake Monsters grabbing excentric Arizona quarterback Shane Shelton. Offensive players kept flying off the board, but the Merchantmen had different plans and enjoyed the show. Despite their openly advertised desire to draft a wide receiver, instead they added highest graded linebacker Espino through the 29 overall pick. A fast, agile, presumably top-notch pass defender.

The blockbusterish trade followed shortly after. The Merchantmen sent their 2087 first round pick together with their second, third and fifth through seventh round picks in this draft to the Hanalei Dragons for their second and fifth round picks in 2087 and the #32 overall pick in this draft. Second highest graded cornerback Lee Hancock was the player of choice. The Merchantmen staff fully expects him to work well alongside Kirk Hitchcock and puts pressure on Tre Poloski to stop thinking he's irreplaceable as the CB2.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:34 AM   #172
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Marshall leaves Merchantmen for Greenjackets
Wendell Marshall's stint in Maassluis has ended after one season. The 31-year old defensive end signed a two-year deal worth just over $18M with the Augusta Greenjackets. Marshall came off a breakout season with 12.0 sacks as the Merchantmen leading pass rusher. The Merchantmen beat the Greenjackets in the wild card round of the recent playoffs. The Merchantmen tried to match the Greenjackets' offer, but Marshall took the offer from the East Coast based team, bringing his family back to the States.

To fill the gap, the Merchantmen selected rookie Gene Kondovski from Arizona. The Merchantmen staff assessed him as a top 10 pass rusher of this class. He should bring along some additional defensive abilities to support the run defense, if needed and is expected to jump in as a special teamer as well. The Merchantmen recently decided to keep veteran Ezekiel Wylie, expecting him to mentor Kondovski.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:48 AM   #173
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Theo Bondy and Merchantmen agree terms
After lengthy negotiations, the Maassluis Merchantmen and wide receiver Theodore Bondy agreed terms of a new four-year deal, worth $180 million, including another $61 million signing bonus. Bondy was in the second year of a four year contract signed last off-season, which already included a $55 million signing bonus. The new deal opened up cap space to be able to offer contract extensions to several players in their last year of contract, most notably defensive tackle Heath Oliver and safety Bart Guthrie. Both are regarded elite at their respective positions and the Merchantmen want to maintain their star player heavy roster. This new deal makes it virtually impossible for the Merchantmen to trade or release Bondy without causing a dead cap space hit even larger than the salary figures he's signed for.

Sidekick Artie Blazewicz signed a new two-year deal, as the Merchantmen offered him the so-called cap out contract, which means Blazewicz received a bit of his 2086 salary in the form of a signing bonus. As a result, Blazewicz has basically guaranteed his roster spot with the Merchantmen. Coming off a bit of a comeback season, emerging as one of the biggest deep-threat receivers in the league, Blazewicz solidified his spot as the WR2 ahead of second-year receiver Tucker Gaylor, whom the Merchantmen think has a bright future, and veteran Rico Techen.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:53 AM   #174
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Merchantmen select guard Andre Watson
With their fourth round pick of the 2086 draft, the Maassluis Merchantmen selected guard Andre Watson from Nebraska. Albeit considered a raw talent, Watson showed his speed and agility at the rookie combine, while the Merchantmen staff assessed him as one of few players in the class capable of being a reliable run blocker and pass protector. The retirement of Carlos Webb left the Merchantmen behind with only two guards on roster. It does seem unlikely he'll see much if any playing time behind returning starters Harvey Hank and Michael Szott.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:21 AM   #175
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General Manager Notes: 2086, here we come... Almost
The draft has finished, the off-season is soon to be finished, with a crucial training camp upcoming. The goal for this training camp is simple: figure out what plays are missing and what plays are a waste of paper or bits in the play book.

What have we've been doing this off-season so far? Well, we lost a handful of players and acquired 4 rookies through the draft. In the next day or so, I hope we can add a bunch of the 17 free agents that we offered a spot on our training camp roster. Sure, they have a shot at a pre-season roster spot, at least 7 of them could make that, but they'll have to do exceptionally well to earn a spot on our 53-men opening day roster.

How about them rookies?

Fourth round pick Andre Watson looks green, very green. I hope he can live up to his potential, but we've seen many offensive linemen fail before. That said, the kid should realize he's in a good place, we've got a long history of mid-round picks becoming reliable starters on our offensive line.

Third round pick Gene Kondovski looks greener than I hoped. As of now, it'll be tough to put him on our rotation, yet, with Wendell Marshall gone, we've got little other options... He'll get his playing time on the special teams unit and we'll put Ezekiel Wylie on him to learn the tricks. We've still got a deep line, providing father time won't be nasty on the veteran defensive tackles...

Pick #32 overall Lee Hancock looks green as well. Boy, have we misjudged in this draft or what? It didn't even occur to me until now, but him teaming up with Kirk Hitchcock means we've got a cocky couple of corners here. Hancock has enough skill to put him on bump and run kind of duties, so he'll surely see playing time amidst Hitchcock and the stamina lacking Tre Poloski. For nickel and dimeroles, Hancock will have to watch and learn from the others though, especially Giovanni Morton.

Pick #29 overall Daquan Espino looks like he's the most developed of these four draft picks. His arrival is bad news for Billy Springer, our third linebacker in the last two seasons. We'll have to see how we fit Espino into the front seven with Craig McCorkle and Glenn Brewer as the obvious starters, but in all formation with seven or eight on the field, Espino should be good enough to be one of them. For now it might be likely he'll ride the bench on obvious passing downs.

Aside from those four draft picks, we signed as little as zero free agents from other teams. We managed to lock up the restricted free agents Jessie Taylor and Miles Barker, our two most active tight ends last season. We'll want to get them more involved in the running game and a bit less in the passing game, but it's been tricky to make that work last season.

What's on our to do list? A couple of things.

We missed out on signing the best long snapper in the free agent market and didn't spent a draft pick on getting a replacement. So yes, we'll be looking for signing a long snapper in time for training camp.

We have contract extensions to work out with a bunch of key players. Heath Oliver (the best defensive tackle in the league), Bart Guthrie (the best safety in the league), quarterback Ellis McAlister and left tackle Nathan Hadinger are on their last year of contract. We need to agree terms with them before opening weekend. The only relief here is that none of them decided to hold out and make it harder on us.

Ten other players are on their last year of contract. Yes, I understand not mentioning them may seem like disrespecting them, but the four guys I did mention are exceptionally talented players at crucial positions. We'll definitely try to get to terms with the other guys, providing they survive the pre-season cuts...

All in all, we've lost two players that saw a lot of action last season. Replacing Wendell Marshall looks tougher than I had hoped, after all, he exceeded expectations, despite that I did believe in him being capable of what he did for us, which was a breakout year for him. It was a real bummer for him to shove the confidence we gave him aside and move to Augusta. But so be it, we'll find a way to replace him, no worries. Andy Russell and Gino Kemp are long overdue for a 10-sack season, now might be the time to throw them more exclusively on the pass rush and let others do the run stopping.

Cohesion will once again be one of our stand out skills. The special teams unit has thrived last season, we hope to maintain that. Despite a somewhat disappointing month last season, Gabe Broady rebounded and earned a new contract. Heck, his agent is a clearly terrible at this, because Broady is a steal for his cap figure. This guy has been the best punt returner in the league for the past three seasons. It does help when even guys like Theo Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock, Craig McCorkle and Leonard Belin want to play on that unit. Those are key players at other positions, willing to butt heads with opponents to help Broady make his plays. That's another part of the cohesive team we've established here. It's been one of our strengths for decades, it's really thriving in this particular part of the game.

Looking at the schedule for that upcoming 2086 season, the confidence in the team will be severely tested early on. In the first seven weeks, we'll play exactly one home game, against the IHOF's highest decorated franchise, the Tucker Tigers. Around that game, we'll host three playoff-teams from last season: the IHOF champion North Plainfield Plague, the NAC runner up Hanalei Dragons and the Augusta Greenjackets, the team we beat in the wild card round in a very close game. The other two road games are in Gothenburg and Paris. We'll really have to focus on sticking with our plan, try to win as many as possible of these games where we'll usually be underdogs based on homefield advantage. Down the road, the schedule won't ease up, we'll still have to face the Orlando Talons and Fairbanks Northstars (both on the road) and get to host the team to watch in 2086: the Oakland Black Panthers. We'll also have to face the Houston Mustangs, Colorado Cutthroats and Snapfinger Jazz. That's even excluding the double header with the re-emerging Bordeaux Vineyards and the home games against Gothenburg and Paris.

But hey, if we're as good as we think we are, we should be able to play our A game, beat most of them, get in the playoffs and then see how deep we can get. Theo Bondy was back to his 2K form last season, the defense continues to be amazingly talented and the running game and our sidekicks to Theo are good enough to keep every opponent honest about (not) focusing too much on Theo.

But we're getting way ahead of ourselves now, we still have to undergo the waves of training camp, finding out in pre-season whether our guys are still in shape and then figure out which 53 players will be deemed good enough to represent the Merchantmen in 2086.

Go Merchantmen!
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Old 11-09-2019, 12:53 PM   #176
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Oscar Meadows sixth on all-time Merchantmen money ranking
Recently retired offensive tackle Oscar Meadows ranks sixth on the all-time Merchantmen money list. In 15 seasons in Maassluis, Meadows cumulated nearly $248 million in cap figures. He had moved into sixth place at the end of the 2083 season, surpassing 2057-2065 quarterback Lester Lowe. The money list is lead by five hall of famers, with the top four all members of the Merchantmen's only IHOF Bowl winning squad in the 2066 season.

The absolute top 10
1. DT Shaun Hartman $337.42M
2. CB Peter Tucker $334.89M
3. LB Edward Ross $299.56M
4. C Tom Anaya $299.18M
5. QB Bryson Chow $279.12M
6. T Oscar Meadows $247.93M
7. QB Lester Lowe $215.17M
8. WR Riddick Stanley $206.08M
9. LB Antonio Battle $202.07M
10. LB Gabe Hamilton $201.99M

The top 10 will likely see some changes once the 2086 season roster has been determined. Quarterback Ellis McAlister has accumulated $189M and is due $42M the upcoming season. It seems likely his actual cap figure for the upcoming season will be different, depending on where McAlister and Merchantmen management end up in negotiations. Moving up to seventh place right behind Meadows looks very likely. No other player currently on roster is within a reasonable shot of the $200M figure.

Due to increasing cap figures over the decades, recently active players are dominating the all-time money list. On the relative figures towards the overall cap space spent on players, a different top 10 becomes visible. Quarterback Russell Harrison, in 2030 traded over failed contract negotiations, has managed to accumulate the highest relative cap figure. In his twelve seasons on roster he averaged roughly 10.7 percent of the team's total cap spent, adding up to 128.47 percent.

The relative top 10
1. QB Russell Harrison 128.47
2. QB Bryson Chow 98.9
3. DT Andy Cottle 96.81
4. DT Charles Gomez 95.15
5. DT Shaun Hartman 93.41
6. CB Peter Tucker 90.72
7. QB Louie Flannery 88.82
8. WR Gabe Springer 84.1
9. LB Edward Ross 80.54
10. C Tom Anaya 79.95

It seems unlikely anyone of players currently on roster will soon threaten this top10. Quarterback Ellis McAlister has a relative figure of 43.98, defensive tackle Glen Stiegler 42.53 and guard Harvey Hank 38.89. Oscar Meadows recently retired with a 61.88 figure.

Most notable on the relative cap figure list are defensive tackles Andy Cottle and Charles Gomez. Of the top 10, they are the only two not to get elected into the IHOF's Hall of Fame. Gomez' career was deemed too short by the HOF Committee, while Cottle's cap figure has possibly been influenced by the Merchantmen overpaying for his services playing at the then considered most important position.

Three Merchantmen Hall of Famers are considered to have been slightly underpaid. Running back Stanley Givens played 4 seasons in orange-white-and-blue, earning roughly $41M and just 7.05 percent of the cap figures. Fellow running back Norbert Talley accumulated just under $132M in 8 seasons, with roughly 5.95 percent of the cap figure in each of those seasons. Defensive end Daquan Strugielski and his two Defensive Player of the Year awards got rewarded with just over $125M and roughly just 2.77 percent of each season's cap figure in those 12 seasons.
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Old 11-15-2019, 07:52 AM   #177
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Merchantmen release Glen Stiegler
The Maassluis Merchantmen today announced the release of Glen Stiegler. The 34-year old defensive tackle and former first round pick leaves the Merchantmen after 11 seasons of service, in which he missed only 2 games.

A reliable and fearsome pass rusher, while also a quality run stuffer, made Stiegler a two-time All IHOF selection and earned second team honors once. Last season his role already went from full time starter to a by committee role, primarily focusing on rushing the passer on obvious passing downs. He was a key figure for the team that lost in the 2078 AOC Championship game and was also active in the more recently 2085 AOC Championship game, also a lost effort.

Stiegler hopes to find a roster spot elsewhere in the league, but those odds appear slim. Merchantmen management decided to go into the 2086 season with three defensive tackles and five defensive ends, giving preference to the two rookies Gene Kondovski and Tony Whiting over Stiegler.

The Merchantmen also cut cornerback Shaquille Dixon, whom they do think has a bright future ahead of him, but 2086 came too early for him to win a roster spot in Maassluis. Dixon and Stiegler were the final two cuts to trim the roster down to 53 players. Earlier this off-season, the Merchantmen released 12 other players, most prominently being three experienced special teamers Riddick Bunting and Jermaine Page. Bunting played 85 games for the Merchantmen, while Page joined the century club with his 106th appearance in the 2085 playoffs.

The Merchantmen go into opening weekend with 9 new players on roster, with 8 rookies and one second-year pro. Four rookies were drafted: linebacker Daquan Espino, cornerback Lee Hancock, defensive end Gene Konodvski and guard Andre Watson. Four rookies were undrafted free agents: fullback Clay Brosseau, center Jared Labbe, defensive end Tony Whiting and long snapper Timothy Biegen. Wide receiver Chris DeWoody is the second-year pro, last season an undrafted rookie with the Fort Wayne Fury.
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Old 11-15-2019, 07:59 AM   #178
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Heath Oliver extends with Merchantmen
Three days before opening weekend, the Maassluis Merchantmen and defensive tackle Keith Oliver agreed terms of a new four-year contract. Oliver was due to become a free agent after the 2086 season and according to league rules, they had to renew the contract before week 1 games. Oliver signed a $208 million contract with a $69 million signing bonus. Oliver is regarded as a key member of an elite run defense.

The news comes a day after the Merchantmen re-sign left tackle Nathan Hadinger to a 5-year deal worth over $146 million. Still recovering from an unguinal hernia, Hadinger is expected to miss opening weekend, but ready for action in week 2.

The Merchantmen hope to agree terms with safety Bart Guthrie in the next two days, to lock up all their key players that are in the last year of contract. The team also expects to re-sign some of the seven other veterans in the last year of contract, of whom none are expected to be a starter in the 2086 season.
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Old 11-16-2019, 07:23 AM   #179
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General Manager Notes: 2086 fourth time the charm?
Favorites to win it all, we're a top the DogBytes power rating to start the season for the fourth season in succession.

What does it mean? It means we've done something right to build a team that can potentially win games. In our case, it's a combination of awesome players (Theodore Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock, Keith Oliver, Bart Guthrie, Craig McCorkle, the entire offensive line, perhaps even our quarterback Ellis McAlister), being loyal to our players to build sky high cohesion and good economy to be able to pick a good coaching staff.

But aside from those on paper factors, we're going to be tested with how our game plan will work out. In pre-season, Artie Blazewicz showed glimpses of being more than just the Blazewicz special play, he's shown he can complement Theo in being a top-notch receiving duo. Our running backs tandem/trio and their blockers are strong enough to punish opponents that focus on stopping the pass, which is near impossible with Theo involved anyway.

We picked up four new players for our defense for the upcoming season, all rookies. Last season that number was limited to just one new player: the awesome veteran defensive end Wendell Marshall. It remains to be seen, but losing Marshall might be a bigger loss than the fresh blood can do to improve our defense. Gene Kondovski and Tony Whiting are promising pass rushers, but they're not there yet. We'll throw Kondovski out there anyway, we need him to become our primary pass rusher as quickly as possible.

Releasing Glen Stiegler was a very tough decision. Our defensive captain and a core member of our defense for over a decade. But sadly, we've noticed he lost a lot of his speed, has durability, his agility. With all the talent on the line, he wasn't going to be on the active roster and as a result, I decided we should give that eighth roster spot on the defensive line to the undrafted rookie Tony Whiting. Oliver is our work horse up the middle, A.J. Ritt and Erik Shrader will split time as the second defensive tackle. On the end, we'll be using four guys in an energy saving rotation, with Andy Russell, Geno Kemp, Ezekiel Wylie and Kondovski. We might switch from Wylie to Whiting at some point during the season.

Rookie linebacker Daquan Espino will be our third guy this season. McCorkle and Glenn Brewer look sharp and as such we have no need to replace them as of yet. We'll be in plenty situations with three linebackers on the field anyway, Espino will get his playing time.

In the secondary, we've got rookie Lee Hancock as the new face, but he'll be fighting for playing time with Tre Poloski and Courtney Blackwell, our new nickelback. Giovanni Morton will be less active upcoming season, but we'll need his mentoring skills. At safety, Riddick Newsome is a new starter. We picked him up during the 2085 season to fill in for the season ending injuries of Alexander Marty and Rex McIndoe. He's lacking the stamina to be a full time starter, so it's likely he'll have to time-share with Marty. Strong safety Guthrie and cornerback Hitchcock are the undisputed starters. They are elite players at their positions.


The offense is mostly unchanged. Despite 5 new faces on roster, the guys seeing action will be very similar. Ellis McAlister remains our starting quarterback, heck, we've even signed him to a new expensive three-year deal to make sure he won't be a free agent next off-season. Is Ernest Andrews the future? Too early to tell, he's got that victory in his sole start last season to boost his confidence, but he still needs to improve and prove he's got top25 potential, which is our bottom line. We were patient with McAlister, he rode the bench for 5 long seasons. But I can't promise Andrews we'll be that patient again...

Our offensive line is unchanged, from left to right Nathan Hadinger, Harvey Hank, Butch Pearson, Michael Szott and Howard Humphrey. Hank is the veteran of the bunch, Hadinger the elite pass blocker, Pearson and Humphrey the elite run blockers. Szott is a complete player. Nestor of the line Louie Murray will be our opening day left tackle, as Hadinger needs another week or so to shake off the last effects of the hernia that sidelined him last season. Rookies guard Andre Watson and center Jared Labbe will (hopefully) see little action this season, as that would mean injuries forced them into action. Labbe looks interesting, a stellar run blocker. Watson is so green, it's hard to tell where his peak will be. We hope he can step in at Hank's spot in a year or two.

Our running game will once again see us split Leonard Belin and Reggie Thongchanh the carries. Monty Digler remains to be our third down back, providing the staff doesn't forget to use him, goshdangit! Tristan Cochrane will be the fullback, but it remains to be seen whether we'll use him as a run blocker or a pass blocker. The same might apply to tight ends Jessie Turner and Matt Barker, although it's pretty obvious at least one of those three will be on the field on running plays, at times even two of them.

But our centerpiece of the offense is quite clearly Theo. We loved all our previous all-worldly wide receivers (Gabe Springer, Terry Haskell and J.R. Mills in particular), but Theo is something special. This guy has everything needed to be considered the best at his position, not just in the league currently, but also the best in franchise history.

Alongside Theo, we'll be trying to trim down on targeting our tight ends and backfield players, trying to get even more deep threat with Blazewicz and our third receiver Tucker Gaylor. Expect to see more of the second half of the season Blazewicz. Gaylor remains to be a mystery as McAlister has had little opportunity to target him last season, but he does appear to have the skills to punish opposing secondaries. We've got newly signed lightning fast Chris DeWoody as a backup plan for Gaylor. Rico Techen remains on roster to mentor Gaylor. Ross Willbrandt sadly lost some of his speed, but he'll stick around as our fifth active receiver for the Hail Mary plays and as our second kickoff returner.

Speaking of special teams roles, our unit is considered cream of the crop in the league and rightfully so. Willbrandt and Blazewicz have proven to be quality kickoff returners, but Gabe Broady is a world beater, the undisputed best punt returner in the IHOF for the last three seasons. Blackwell gives us the luxury to sideline Broady if he's struggling. We'll keep our eyes open for a new kickoff returner though, as Willbrandt has looked slow and sluggish in pre-season and Blazewicz needs to save his energy for the passing game. We trust our punter Doug Guynes and believe in the talent of kicker Thomas Robertson, despite his struggles. Kick holder Karsten Muchnick stuck around for another season, he won that roster spot battle over a rookie. Our long snapper retired, but rookie Timothy Biegen looks good enough to step in. As you may have noticed, we've said goodbye to several of our other special teamers, but we've got plenty of guys capable of stepping in and even stepping it up: Belin, Thongchanh, Bondy, De Woody, Barker, McCorkle, Wylie, Skip Keith, Billy Springer, Guthrie, McIndoe, Poloski...


So yeah, I think we should feel confident that in Maassluis we've got a team that can play with and beat every other team in this league. We've got play makers in every position group and elements on our team that can make a difference with something special other teams don't have. It's pointless to think we've had our share of bad luck over the past three seasons, we can still blame ourselves for lack of effort to fix what we were doing wrong. Is the season a failure if we don't win the IHOF Bowl? In a way it is, this might be the last season with all these guys together. Cap space will be a real issue next season, if not the one after, because all these all world caliber players do want to get paid for their services. McAlister's is the oldest player on the team, at some point he's going to fall apart, but you never know with football players once they hit the 30's, they may retire when you least expect it.

But those are worries for the far future, 2086 is the season we're kicking off in 2 days. I'm confident we can improve on last season, which suggests anything can happen. Go Merchantmen!
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
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Old 11-16-2019, 08:45 AM   #180
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
2086 roster breakdown
posnameageskillhow acquiredrole
QBE.McAlister34XXXXXXXXXXX'74 draft 6th roundfranchise QB
QBE.Andrews22XXXXoo'85 draft 2nd roundQB project
KHK.Muchnick30XXXXXX'79 undrafted rookie FAkick holder, I repeat, kick holder
RBR.Thongchanh24XXXXXXo'85 draft 4th roundball carrier
RBL.Belin27XXXXXXXXXX'82 draft 6th roundball carrier
RBM.Digler23XXXXXXX'84 draft 4th roundthird down back
FBT.Cochrane27XXXXXXXXXX'81 draft 5th roundpass blocker, run blocker
FBC.Brosseau22XXXXXoooo'86 undrafted rookie FAproject run blocker
TEJ.Taylor25XXXXXXX'85 veteran FArun blocker
TEM.Barker26XXXXXXX'84 undrafted rookie FArun blocker
TEN.Grundy33XXXX'83 veteran FArun blocker
TET.Kotz25XXXoo'85 draft 7th roundproject run blocker
WRTh.Bondy27XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'82 draft 1st roundbest WR in the league
WR/KRA.Blazewicz28XXXXXXXXX'80 draft 6th rounddeep threat receiver, kickoff returner
WRT.Gaylor25XXXXXXXoo'85 draft 5th roundproject wide receiver
WRC.DeWoody25XXXXXXXX'86 veteran FAdeep threat receiver
KRR.Willbrandt28XXXX'82 undrafted rookie FAbackup kickoff returner
WRR.Techen30XXXXXXX'78 draft 6th roundmentor, deep threat reciever
CB.Pearson28XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'80 draft 1st roundall round center
CJ.Labbe24XXXXXoooo'86 undrafted rookie FAproject run blocking center
GM.Szott26XXXXXXXXXXXXXX'84 draft 2nd roundall round guard
GH.Hank31XXXXXXXXX'76 draft 1st roundall round guard
GA.Watson22XXXXoooooo'86 draft 4th roundproject all round guard
LTN.Hadinger26XXXXXXXXXXXXX'83 draft 2nd roundleading pass protector
LTL.Murray34XXXXXXXX'74 draft 6th roundbackup pass protector
RTH.Humphrey26XXXXXXXXXXXXX'85 draft 1st roundleading run blocker
PD.Guynes24XXXXXXXXXXXX'85 draft 3rd roundpunter (duh)
KT.Robertson24XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'84 draft 2nd roundkicker (duh)
DEA.Russell26XXXXXXXXX'82 draft 5th roundpass rusher, run defense support
DEG.Kemp29XXXXXXXXX'80 draft 5th roundpass rusher, run defense support
DEG.Kondovski24XXXXXXoooooo'86 draft 3rd roundproject pass rusher
DEE.Wylie27XXXXXX'81 undrafted rookie FApass rusher, mentor
DET.Whiting25XXXXXo'86 undrafted rookie FApass rusher, project
DTH.Oliver26XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'83 draft 1st roundrun defense anchor, pass rush support
DTE.Sharder27XXXXXXX'80 draft 4th roundpass rusher
DTA.Ritt23XXXXXXX'84 draft 6th roundpass rusher
LBC.McCorkle28XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'79 draft 1st roundall around linebacker
LBG.Brewer31XXXXXXXXXXX'77 draft 1st roundpass rusher, run defense support
LBD.Espino22XXXXXXXXXooooo'86 draft 1st roundproject all around linebacker
LBB.Springer26XXXXXX'83 draft 7th roundbackup pass defender
LBS.Keith32XX'82 veteran FAspecial teamer
CBK.Hitchcock28XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX'81 draft 1st roundshutdown corner
CBT.Poloski26XXXXXXXXXX'81 draft 1st roundrun defense support, man defender
CBL.Hancock22XXXXXXooooo'86 draft 1st roundproject cornerback
CB/PRC.Blackwell26XXXXXX'84 draft 5th roundnickelback, backup punt returner
CBG.Morton34XXXXX'76 undrafted rookie FAmentor, backup nickelback
PR/KRG.Broady27XXX'81 in-season undrafted rookie FApunt returner, emergency kickoff returner
SSB.Guthrie26XXXXXXXXXXXXXX'83 draft 1st roundstrong safety
FSR.Newsome24XXXXXX'85 in-season veteran FAzone defender
SSA.Marty27XXXXXXXXXX'83 draft 5th roundrun defender, backup zone defender
FSR.McIndoe34XXXXX'75 late season FAspecial teamer, backup safety
FSE.Miller28XXXXXXXX'82 draft 2nd roundbackup safety
LST.Biegen22XXXX'86 undrafted rookie FAlong snapper (duh)
__________________
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Old 11-16-2019, 08:57 AM   #181
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Location: Annapolis, Md
cohesion is off the charts for the Merchantmen, part of them being tipped among the league favorites this season
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Old 11-21-2019, 04:50 PM   #182
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Two for three on the road...
The season has barely started and we've already had our bye week, without having played a single game in our own Oranje Haven. Such is the life in football, at time.

So, three road games to start the season. We knew this was coming, but it's still nasty when you're in that series. And lo and behold, we've come out of it with 2 wins, including a drubbing of the reigning IHOF champions. How about that?

Week 1 against the Gothenburg Giants was a near choke victory. The first half 31-7 lead was barely enough to win 34-31 on a last second field goal. Theo carried the team like we want him to do: 11 catches for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns.

We followed up with a horrible showing at the Hanalei Dragons. The other conference championship losers played tremendous red zone defense, forcing us to kick it way too much. The defense actually returned the favor, resulting in a 26-12 loss, with just 2 touchdowns all day. Theo caught 11 passes for 163 yards.

Week 3 was a different story. Playing at the North Plainfield Plague, the reigning IHOF champions, the top-notch defense for a change actually managed to play top-notch pass defense. How awesome is that? We somehow kept their star receiver to 6 catches on 22 targets, letting their quarterback throw for only 91 yards on 37 pass plays. Theo had 10 catches for 113 yards and a score.

Week 4 was our bye week.

Week 5 is up next, with yet another heavy matchup. We'll be hosting the undefeated revived Tucker Tigers. Granted, they played the easiest schedule so far, which doesn't say a lot at this stage of the season about either the team itself or those opponents. Their running game is traditionally efficient, their passing game dangerous with a rookie tight end averaging just over 10 yards per target. Their pass defense might be the weak spot, we'd better take advantage of it, but the only way to do that is keep them from controlling the ball and clock. Missing Howard Humphrey due to an achilles tendon injury will be a major blow. This kid has been phenomenal for our running game.

We'll have to see what we can do here, I hope for the best, but we've shot ourselves in the foot way too often in the previous three seasons. Being favored by a point or two means very little. If anything, that this game could go either way.

Hopefully our way. Go Merchantmen!
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Old 11-26-2019, 04:06 PM   #183
MIJB#19
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General Manager Notes: Leading Europe, but the lead is small...
After a mishmash of stellar road victories and a couple of mindboggling losses at home, we've placed ourselves at the top of the division with a 4-3 record.

With 5 road games already in the books and most of the tough opponents behind us, we thought we were in go mode for a 12-4 kind of season. Not so much, we stumbled over the previously winless Snapfinger Jazz, in Oranje Haven no less, meaning the next home game against the Bordeaux Vineyards will put the division lead at mid-season on the line after all.

Theo had a bit of an off-day against the Jazz, which didn't help, while the defensive line has been Merchantmen unworthy in generating pass rush pressure. It's tempting to throw the game plan overboard and act like we had a bad plan. We're probably about 66% to 75% effective, but I have no clue what works and what doesn't.

Does it mean I'm holding us back? Probably, this team feels like it could have been 6-1 and had no business choking our only two home games. But sometimes, football can see that oddly shaped ball bounce into the wrong direction and make your team lose a game it should have won and a game it should have won by two scores.

European Division:
1. Maassluis 4-3
2. Paris 3-4
3. Bordeaux 3-4
4. Gothenburg 1-5-1

Ok, the lead is just a game, but on paper, we're really a game or two ahead of the division. We steamrolled the Musketeers in Paris and should have never let the Giants come back to within 3 points at Gothenburg. We lost two winnable home games by a score and had smooth victories at our 2085 playoffs opponents from Augusta and North Plainfield. The loss at Hanalei was only logical.

Sure, the rest of the season won't be a cup cake schedule, we're no Asstoria Heroes, but we've got every reason to be optimistic, bar injuries to key players.

We'll curse the player agent of Bart Guthrie after the last game of the season, aside from this one right now: what a lunatic for telling his player to not take a better offer than he requested. *rant*

We'll have to keep faith in our pass rush, keep throwing it to Theo, but not overdoing it. And with a little bit of luck on the right side, we're still in the running for doing better than last season.

We can do this, Merchantmen! We can do this.
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Old 11-30-2019, 04:06 PM   #184
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: rising, rising, and then dropping hard...
Two games back, we thought we had finally arrived where we thought we could be, but two home choke jobs later, we're back on earth after falling flat on our face.

With our first home victory of the season (20-13 vs Bordeaux) and a much deserved, yet surprisingly easy win (30-25 at Orlando), we had improved into the race for the top 2 seeds. But a couple of choke jobs later, both at home, we'll have to look over our shoulder again for the amazingly revived Gothenburg Giants, currently the conference's hottest team with 4 straight victories.

Europe
1. Maassluis 6-5
2. Gothenburg 5-5-1
3. Bordeaux 4-7
4. Paris 4-7

I honestly have no clue what we (I) have done wrong to see another pair of choke jobs in our own Oranje Haven. Against Gothenburg, we were driving for a hard-fought victory, but instead saw a pick six in the final minute turn our 454 yards of offense turn into a 9-17 disgrace. The home game against the pretty much playoffs eliminated Oakland Black Panthers saw the defense allow 454 yards, with 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, to lose 28-27 on a touchdown pass with 36 seconds to go.

Yes, this too is football, but we were on the other side of the coin against Bordeaux (goal line stand to salvage victory) and overcame late game turnovers that almost destroyed the solid performance at Orlando. As if we just don't want to show the rest of the world we're a 13-3/12-4 caliber team. No, we need to make things difficult on us, choke game after game, needing coin flips to get the W's.

Sadly, I'm out of ideas how to pinpoint what we're doing wrong. All the time spent in the video room feels like a waste of time, as we're playing like a .500 land team for the fourth straight season, despite that loaded roster.

Our window of opportunity is quickly shutting, Ellis McAlister is getting up there in age, the cap situation is getting very tight, including the $14M of cap space gone to waste this season because some stupid player agent feels like undervaluing the past safety in the league: "Nah, we don't want more money, we want less money, or else he'll sign elsewhere next off-season." Sigh.

So, 5 more games to get things right, with some luck get a slightly more favorable playoffs route as the #2 seeds and then hope to get lucky ones we're there. But really, does a team much better than .500, yet performing no better than that .500 deserve to dream?

One game at a time, one game at a time. That's where we stand.

Glen Brewer is out for the rest of the regular season, defensive end Tony Whiting, inactive for the first 11 games, will be moved back to outside linebacker and subsequently activated to fulfill the silliness called roster requirements.

I'm still hopeful we'll regroup and do well in the next 9 weeks of the season, but it's getting way ahead of things once again. Week 13, hosting Houston. Yes, a team we've rarely beaten when we were favorites, like we are this season. In fact, Vegas gives us only the home field advantage points this time around, which in our current form actually feels like a disadvantage, we've already secured having a worse record at home than on the road this season (1-4 vs 5-1).

So, guys, what will it be? Let another season go to waste, or will we step it up and after this long time of underperforming right the ship and start a long winning streak of 8 or 9 games? Y'all have the talent for it, now prove that y'all can do it.

Go Merchantmen!
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:54 PM   #185
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Writer's rant: This fourth consecutive season of .500 ball is seriously hurting my interest to write about what could (should?) have been a powerhouse team during that tenure. Seemingly I've become one of the worst playbook makers both on offense and defense, despite that this is still the same game as the one we finally got our first and (so far?) only bowl victory in. It keeps getting tougher to think this ship can be righted, especially knowing that next season the decline of the roster strength will be unavoidable due to the snowballing of overpriced contracts.

The latter a direct result of a bug (I have no other word for this annoyingness) in the way contract renegotiations in the MP environment work differently from SP and make it a somewhat random roll of dice whether a particular player will or will not accept an offer that has much more or even much more guaranteed money that what he asked for. In SP it's cut and dry: the player will always accept the upgrade, in MP, you need to find the magic number for every single player, which is a serious pain in the you-know-where when there are only 3 stages after the random volatility rolls to offer those contracts.

I don't fancy the 'needs more testing in SP' approach, yet - much to my chagrin - I have spent plenty of time redoing the playbook (in that one stage per season when it's technically possible to change it) and analyzing what plays do and do not work on both offense and defense. But when that quite simply feels like it's been a waste of time, it's making playing this game more frustrating than it had already began when this became a necessity to remain competitive with teams with inferior rosters that did figure out the magic numbers that somehow work.

It's becoming a vicious circling catch-22, it dwindles down my interest to initiate trades, prepare for the draft, hence aggravating my roster building skills and as a result take away the little advantages I somehow seemed to have over teams yo-yoing from 9-7 to 5-11, rinse repeat.

A design change and a bug fix don't appear to be on the horizon, so it becomes a question whether I'm willing to throw nearly 16 years of playing this game away. Well, most certainly I am not! The white flag will not be raised, especially not thrown into the ring like a towel either.

[end rant]

2086 isn't entirely lost, we're going into week 17 (tomorrow) with the season still salvageable. So more on that later...
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Old 12-07-2019, 10:10 AM   #186
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Regular season ends in a dramatic fashion...
We're repeat division champions. Yay.

It ended in a dramatic change of events. While we thought we were clobbering the Paris Musketeers and hearing the Gothenburg Giants were steamrolling the Bordeaux Vineyards, we thought we were going to finish second in the division, in the last wild card spot and started fueling the team plane for a trip to Gothenburg.

Then we all woke up after a night's sleep and found out it was all a dream. We did wind up beating Paris, although just barely, leaning enormously on Theo Bondy and a franchise record 285 yards receiving, but more importantly, Gothenburg choked the division title with an unheard of 39-16 home deficit to Bordeaux.

European division:
1. Maassluis 9-7
2. Gothenburg 8-7-1
3. Bordeaux 6-10
4. Paris 5-11

Despite our shockingly bad record for a division champion and for the kind of player collective we have, the AOC Northeast division has been so tight, that entire division finishes the season with 8 losses, except for the 9-7 Harlem Apollos and their inferior conference record compared to our 9-3 record inside the AOC (yeah, we got swept by a division with 3 losing teams and a 10-6 champion), meaning we ended up as the #3 seeds and hosting the #6 seeds: the Gothenburg Giants!

Theo Bondy's big day also meant he sky rocketed to the receiving yards title with 2,449 yards, coincidentally yet another franchise record, as were the 19 receiving touchdowns.

So, after a very wobbly regular season campaign, the on paper title candidates sneak into the playoffs once again. We've been 9-7 or 7-9 in all four of these season. It's annoyingly disappointing. And yet, we're one of 12 teams still in the running, as undeservingly as that may seem. We'd better make the best of it, because with our inexcusable ability to piss away games against opponents that we should steamroll, we have no reason to be cocky. Confidence is a good thing, but only if it helps us get the best out of ourselves. The 'on paper favorites' rarely win, we've proven that for the last 3 seasons already. Fourth time the charm? Who knows, time will tell.

Next up Gothenburg, at home. We made horrible decisions in a winnable home game earlier this season, while we already had nearly choked a 24-point lead in the road game there. We'll have to play our A game to win here. We can do this, team: go Merchantmen!
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:01 PM   #187
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Writer's note: I haven't had a writers' block, but I did get caught between a bit of a roller coaster of events and aforementioned disappointment about the game. The former is sometimes a boost for writing, but it hasn't been this time around. The later, well, I'm trying to cope with it, but it continues to be an increasing annoyance.

No worries though. Naturally, I haven't given up, why would I after 83 seasons? 2086 wasn't the kind of season it could and should have been, while 2087 is starting with cap hell. Draft class board is up and running, just in case we can't get rid of all the expensive draft picks. But more on that later, maybe.
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Old 12-18-2019, 04:38 PM   #188
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2086, what a weird season...
Last I reported, we were happy to have salvaged our playoffs ticket, even shocked to sneak into the European division crown.

We managed to follow up with a convincing 36-18 defeat of the Gothenburg Giants in our own Oranje Haven. Theo was nigh unstoppable, catching 14 passes for 237 yards.

The joy was short-lived, we found our season end at the inferior talented Fort Wayne Fury, playing incredibly bad after our first possession a 98 yard drive for a quick 7-0 lead. The entire game, we gained just 263 yards and saw the defense once again play way below the standards that we're used to, especially given the talent on roster. 24-13, we can't even claim it was close to the end. Out in the elite eight round. We're not worthy.

So, onwards to the new season we went, with a humongous cap puzzle.
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Old 12-18-2019, 05:12 PM   #189
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: 2087, fifth time the charm?
Football fans, we're far from giving up!

The off-season started with the departure of a couple of players that have been bounced around from starter to more recently a key backup role.

Left tackle Louie Murray retired after 218 games in orange-white-and-blue, a home-grown sixth round pick, mostly on duty to cover the seventh round quarterback Ellis McAlister from the same 2074 draft. A unique duo. Murray started in both the 2078 and 2085 AOC Championship games.

Cornerback Giovanni Morton spent 11 seasons in Maassluis after being picked up as an undrafted rookie in the 2076 off-season. In his third season he emerged as the nickelback of the team and played that role for 8 seasons. He played in both lost AOC Championship games in 2078 and 2085. The most notable of his 172 games was in 2083 when he scored two interception return touchdowns against the Iowa Cobbers in week 16 of the regular season.

Free safety Rex McIndoe was initially a Gothenburg Giant, but late in his second season he got released and picked up by the Merchantmen during the playoffs. From the 2076 season an onwards, he bounced from dimeback to free safety and back and forth. His final two seasons of the 11-season stint were in a reserve role. 171 games in orange-white-and blue are on his resume.

After the wave of retirements, we've decided to release cornerback Tre Poloski after 6 seasons, a former first round pick in the same draft as Kirk Hitchcock, safety Emmitt Miller, our second round pick in 2082 and inactive all of last season, wide receiver Rico Techen, 9 seasons of service as a sixth round pick, and running back Monty Digler, after three season o not delivering as the third down back.

A majority, if not all our key players signed a renegotiated deal, some a so-called cap out and others a restructured deal. The list is too long to mention them all. Guard Michael Szott is the biggest name yet to get a new deal. I hope we can offer him an improved contract before late free agency, but the first wave was to get our of a cap hole far beyond the $100 million over the cap, nearly touching a projected -$145 million after draft pick signings. We're currently at about +$30 million, with 11 contracts to add to the cap.

Safety Bart Guthrie is our main free agency target. As per usual, contract talks are frustrating. His agent declared a clear desired day to sign, but they let that deadline pass and now we're in a battle with 3 other teams for Guthrie's services. We have no frickin' clue whether he wants to stay with us anyway, by lack of any useful feedback, but let's assume it's about 50-50.

We've re-signed restricted free agent defensive end Tony Whiting and long snapper Timothy Biegen.

As of today, we're at 40 players signed, with openings in the backfield (a third RB, a second FB - perhaps restricted free agent Clay Brosseau - or both), a fourth tight end (veteran/mentor Nicholas Gundy looks ready to move to the Outer Banks Ospreys), a wide receiver (or two, we hope to retain kickoff returner Ross Wilbrandt), a backup center (restired free agent Jared Labbe looks promising), a third offensive tackle, a linebacker (or two) to fill in for Chesapeake Chitterlings bound Billy Springer, and then a bunch of defensive backs as we have only 6 left on roster, not including Guthrie.

Meanwhilst, I'm trying to trade away all our draft picks, at the very least the expensive ones. Any incoming rookies will likely ride the bench, possibly even inactive all season. I'm even willing to trade picks for lower round picks in the future for this, that desperate.

We'll manage, though, we'll manage.
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Old 12-24-2019, 09:16 AM   #190
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Ready for pre-season 2087!
The off-season has ended, pre-season starts today. With 60 players on roster, we've got our exhibition season player collection worked out.

All-IHOF second team safety Bart Guthrie's agent decided that it was time for Guthrie to leave Maassluis. He's moved on to the Oakland Black Panthers for a $116M signing bonus. Yeah, we didn't have that cash flow available. Rex McIndoe retired, Emmitt Miller was released after a season of inactivity will earning starter money. Miller has moved to the Paris Musketeers, hoping to make their 53-men roster.

To fill the gap, we signed 29-year old Bart Farrell, a former undrafted safety, who worked his way up in the IHOF from an afterthought to full time starter at the Brooklyn' Fightin' Bums, then an off year at the Chicago Norsemen and the last two seasons starting for the Atlanta Vipers. He's more of a free safety type, but we'll be happy with him alongside the only two safeties that hung around: Riddick Newsome and run stopper Alexander Marty. Behind them, we've got two rookies eager to make the roster in second round pick Renaldo Upshaw and undrafted Salvador Harper. We released fellow undrafted rookie Eddie Adams yesterday to cut down from 61 to 60 players.

Elsewhere in the secondary, we'll have quite the roster spots battle at cornerback. Seven players are hoping to cling on one of the four or five roster spots we'll reserve there. The release of veteran Tre Poloski might have come as a surprise, but he never lived up to the first round pick hype and we felt he no longer deserved that kind of salary. Kirk Hitchcock and Lee Hancock are obviously our returning starters. Two rookies made it as pure cornerbacks, fifth round pick Jessie McNeill and undrafted Kristopher Reid will likely battle for one spot. Gabe Broady is our cherished punt returner, and nothing but that. Courtney Blackwell might improve to nickel back this season and has been waiting in the wings to take over the punt returning duties if Broady loses some speed. Undrafted rookie Mason Wilson might potentially make the team is one of two kickoff return specialists.

At linebacker, three of seven roster spots are locked up for All-IHOF Craig McCorkle, still going strong Glenn Brewer and rising star Daquan Espino. The latter looks ready to jump in as the new MLB ahead of McCorkle. Veteran Skip Keith hopes to get a sixth season in Maassluis as a special teamer. Undrafted rookie Harvey Cassidy is his main rival for the roster spot. Second-year pro Walt Offerman hasn't had a contract in the IHOF yet, but this off-season we decided to give him the chance after he kept working out for himself in hopes to get into the IHOF after all. Third round pick Clayton Jackson is a passing downs linebacker. The kid might fall anywhere from unseating Brewer as the third linebacker to missing the 53-men cut. Moving him to defensive end was an option, but the staff felt he's too short and small to make that move well.

The defensive line is pretty much unchanged from last season's collective. All-IHOF selection Heath Oliver will once again anchor the line from the middle. A truck load of fast pass rushers will be his rotating sidekicks. Gino Kemp, Gene Kondovski, A.J. Ritt, Andy Russell, Erik Shrader, Tony Whiting and Ezekiel Wylie are back for another season. Undrafted rookie Archie Exner looks very promising though, could be the most suitable pass rusher of this 2087 class and he might take out one of those other guys this pre-season...

Doug Guynes returns for another season as our punter, Thomas Robertson should stay as our kicker. He's in the final year of his rookie contract and (somewhat rightfully) thinks he deserves to be the highest paid kicker in the league. Sure, but we don't have the cap space to make you an offer. Most likely, we'll see the last of him this season and either have to pay him big next off-season or look for a replacement in the 2088 off-season. Timothy Biegen returns for a second season as our long snapper. Karsten Muchnick should hang around for a ninth season as our kick holder (I know it's to no avail, but at some point I hope my staff starts to understand that kick holder means kick holding and surely not second string quarterback!).

Speaking of second string quarterbacks, we picked up undrafted rookie Francisco Farley to challenge third year Ernest Andrews for the slight possibility to ever becoming the replacement for when Ellis McAlister calls it quits. It seems very unlikely either will emerge though, we gambled too much in the draft on two players that I felt were worth taking in the fifth and sixth round, but both got taken shortly before our turn.

In the backfield we've replaced veteran Monty Digler, his third down skills never came to fruition. Seventh round pick Francisco Patter isn't quite that kind of player either, but he's emerging as our strongest most promising rookie. His hole recognition makes him a threat to Leonard Belin and Reggie Thongchanh as a viable ball carrier. Patter might lack the breakaway speed to fit in our playing style. Tristan Cochrane remains as our fullback. I'm still struggling to have our staff find a way to sue him to his strengths, we've underused his run blocking skills for four straight season. Consequently, it makes it tough to defend my decision to bring back the promising run blocking fullback Clay Brosseau for a second season.

At tight end, we've replaced veteran Nicholas Gundy with fifth round rookie Randy Holliday. We'll likely go into the 2087 season with 4 tight ends, which should pretty much guarantee a roster spot for Holliday. Tyler Kotz might emergence as our new third tight end this season after two seasons of inactivity. Miles Barker and Jessie Taylor stick around for another season. I hope we find better use of both guys' run blocking skills in the upcoming season.

At wide receiver, it's still Theo sky high above the rest. With another bunch of franchise records, Theodore Bondy was IHOF's leading receiver in 2086. I do hope we can make him more effective as his yards per target number has dipped again to under 8.0. Artie Blazewicz should remains as his main sidekick, although sixth round pick Branden Sandlin looks like a younger, greener, version of Blazewicz, lacking the return skills to make him a true copy. Tucker Gaylor is going into his third season, will he finally emerge as the player I believe he can be? Chris DeWoody is the alternative and is demanding the WR2 role, but his lack of route running skills has kept him in a WR4 role last season. Ross Willbrandt re-emerged as our kickoff returner last season, but he'll be challenged once again and could lose the roster spot to aforementioned rookie cornerback Mason Wilson. Or to undrafted rookie A.J. Warnock, who might make the roster as a kickoff and punt return specialist, while also good enough to be in a support role on special teams.

Lastly, the offensive line. The five starters remain to be the same, most likely: left tackle Nathan Hadinger, left guard Harvey Hank, center Butch Pearson, right guard Michael Szott and right tackle Howard Humphrey. Hank has to look over his shoulder as second-year Andre Watson made decent progress in training camp. As did center Jared Labbe. The retirement of Louie Murray made us decide to acquire two new left tackles in second-year pro Miles Hanspard and fourth round rookie Myron Hamilton. We'll have to see in pre-season which of these two deserves a roster spot in 2087, it's unlikely we have room for both.

And that's it, the 60 names of players that will be on the Maassluis Merchantmen roster this pre-season. As per usual, 7 names (at least) will not make it to our opening day roster. QB, WR, LT, DE, LB, CB and S are the positions where there's most likely a casualty, but nobody is safe. Okay, that's not entirely true. 4 players are safe, because releasing them will give us an increased dead cap space hit: Butch Pearson, Nathan Hadinger, Daquan Espino and Lee Hancock. Their bonus money cap figures in future years are bigger than their base salary for 2088. Another general manager in the IHOF informed me about the availability of Espino, but I had to tell him this exact thing why he's untradeable. We're projected to be roughly $197 million over the cap next off-season. But so be it, that's how we do things here in Maassluis.

So yeah, pre-season action. 4 games to figure out which players are worth keeping. I hope we have some tough decision to make, not because good players have lost their ability to play ball, but because the youngsters are emerging and too many good players are 53-men worthy. Well, then make it so, guys. Give me tough decisions to make.
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Last edited by MIJB#19 : 12-24-2019 at 09:22 AM. Reason: bolding the 60 names
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Old 12-24-2019, 06:32 PM   #191
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Editor's note: After re-reading the first 10 or so posts of this thread, I'm convinced I'll write another era summary when Ellis McAlister retires. By the end of the 2077 I had no idea he would become our new franchise quarterback. The 75th season stuff with the best 50 legends was a lot of fun to write as well.
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Last edited by MIJB#19 : 12-24-2019 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Just some minor typo fixes
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Old 12-25-2019, 09:17 AM   #192
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Roster Cut Day 2087 Comes Early: Merchantmen Release Seven
Without any additional roster moves, the Maassluis merchantmen 53 players for the 2087 season are known. Today, the Merchantmen announced the release of seven players following the 19-19 tie with the Outer Banks Ospreys. Earlier this off-season, the Merchantmen lost 33-27 at the Chesapeake Chitterlings in their first exhibition game.

Quarterback Ernest Andrews jumps out amongst the seven released. The third year former second round pick (#40 overall) was making some progress in training camps and pre-season activity, but apparently it was too little to maintain his roster spot as the future quarterback. Undrafted rookie Fernando Farley made more progress in training camp and was slightly less disastrous in pre-season action than Andrews. Neither looked particularly at place with a second-string heavy support cast. The release of Andrews consequently opens up some cap space to extend contracts of several starters on the secondary in their last year of contract and possibly for kicker Thomas Robertson.

Merchantmen general manager M.IJ.B. assured that the cap situation wasn't at work here: "Farley looks more ready than Andrews to potentially step in after McAlister. Andrews was slightly further in his development overall and finally looked ready to be our QB2, but Farley has the arm, legs and awareness to suit our game plan better. Plus, in Farley we see the upside that McAlister showed back in the day. Honestly, Andrews would have made the opening day roster had Farley not impressed us. But that too is the life in the IHOF."

Sixth-year wide receiver and kickoff return specialist Ross Willbrandt was the second familiar name to not survive the cut wave. For the past three season, Willbrandt had surpassed Artie Blazewicz as the premier kickoff returner. His career average of 27.4 yards per return made him a top ten kickoff returner. He looked slightly out of shape in training camp and the Merchantmen decided to go with rookie Mason Wilson as the new kickoff returner.

Undrafted rookie A.J. Warnock also missed the cut. The wide receiver but mostly return specialist didn't impress enough either to unseat aforementioned Willbrandt and Blazewicz, outdo aforementioned Wilson, nor did he impress enough to get into the mix as a punt returner as the Merchantmen stick with Gabe Broady and Courtney Blackwell there. Although, the league's best guy in that area for the last three season, Broady looks like he'll have to hand it over once again to Blackwell.

Another special teamer, linebacker Skip Keith was told his tenure in Maassluis came to an end after 5 seasons and 70 games. He lost the roster spot battle to undrafted rookie Harvey Cassidy.

The same applies to linebacker Walt Offerman. The Merchantmen certainly think he has potential, but on the crowded front seven in Maassluis and his lacking experience, it was tough going in. He wasn't that bad either, in limited action he defended a pass in both pre-season games.

Another second-year pro on his first stint in the IHOF, left tackle Miles Hanspard lost the roster spot battle to rookie Myron Hamilton. The Merchantmen see more upside in Hamilton between two different players.

The seventh player released was cornerback Kristopher Reid. An undrafted rookie, Reid didn't even get a real chance to prove himself. He was active on 1 passing play and on 10 special teams plays in the 2 pre-season games. Fifth round pick Jessie McNeil got preference over Reid as the 11th defensive back on roster.


With these seven players not surviving these cuts, it does mean a couple of players that seemed unlikely to make the roster are still hanging on. Undrafted quarterback Fernando Farley was already mentioned above, but he's one of 12 rookies and 1 veteran player new to the Merchantmen.

Defensive end Archie Exner didn't see much action in two pre-season games, but the undrafted rookie does look like he's going to jump ahead of Ezekiel Wylie and Tony Whiting as the fourth defensive end in the rotation. It means the Merchantmen are likely going into the 2087 season with 9 defensive linemen on roster, one more than usual.

Cornerback Mason Wilson makes the team as the new kickoff returner specialist. The Merchantmen have Blazewicz ready to take over if needed, but for now, the undrafted rookie looks like he'll get that role.

Seventh round pick running back Francisco Patter is another surprise. As it looks like now, Patter will jump ahead of Leonard Belin, on the depth chart. Belin was the main ball carrier last season with 1,351 yards and 9 touchdowns. A the very least, Patter looks like he'll get the third down back role, for whatever that's still worth as the coaching staff refused to use the previous third down back Monty Digler in the last two seasons. It would also mean Reggie Thongchanh jumps ahead as the top ball carrier.

Safety Salvador Harper was probably the last player to make the 53-men group and it looks like he'll be in an active role due to his special teams skills. The undrafted rookie might even be used on run heavy formations.
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Old 12-26-2019, 09:31 AM   #193
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General Manager Notes: Spoiled brats!
Yeah, I said it. The highest paid roster in the league ended pre-season without a single victory, looking like a cellar dweller during the games. We have scored a grand total of 1 touchdown on offense. Unheard of, shame on yourselves!

We extended contracts of four starters (guard Harvey Hank and defensive backs Courtney Blackwell, Alexander Marty and Riddick Newsome), which means we're going into the season with just $290K in cap space. In fact, I think that's how it should be every season. The last bunch we failed to use all our cap space, which will eventually snowball into a heavier cap situation the following season.

As it looks now, we'll be $217M over the cap at the start of next off-season. We have $293M locked up in bonus money and $11.8M in dead cap space. This leaves us with $179M room for the base salaries, while we've currently promised them to pay $395M. That's all before taking into account the cost of 8 draft picks. Technically, with 45 signed and 8 draft picks, we could get sneaky and go into the season over the cap. But I'm not sure the league will allow us, regardless of whether we feel that's sportsmanlike.

The cap situation is the least of my concerns for now. Apparently this supposedly talented defense continues to play like a below average bunch of players, while the offense continues to struggle heavily when Theo Bondy isn't on the field. Sure, it's okay to rely on Bondy, but it's not okay to stop trying when he isn't on the field or is double covered. I suppose we have 3 or so days to go into the film room, extensively take a look at what does and doesn't work and figure out what needs to be done to make this talented roster feel more comfortable with the game plan given. (Yeah, good luck with that, M.IJ.B....)

The good news? We're no longer cursed with being the pre-season favorites, we've dropped to third place in that area. Or was that a bad thing as well?

Keep hope, Merchantmen, stay strong. Work hard, it won't come easy, but it'll come.
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Old 01-02-2020, 12:04 PM   #194
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General Manager notes: 2087, not our year... Yet?
We're sitting 1-2 after 4 weeks of action. What positive notes can anyone take from there?

For starters, our most recent game was a victory at the defending IHOF champions: the Tucker Tigers. We came back from behind to win 41-34 at their place, despite giving up 448 yards passing and 6.4 yards per carry. Ellis McAlister completed 22 of 28 passes for 316 yards, while the running backs Leo Belin and Reggie Thongchanh combined for 156 yards on 25 carries.

It was a welcome result after we lost a winnable game against the two-time reigning AOC champions Kansas Creationists. We came back from behind in the fourth quarter, turning a 17-10 deficit into a 24-17 lead, gave up the tying touchdown and then saw our kicker miss a 58-yard field goal attempt. In overtime, we let the Creationists convert two expensive third downs and as they reached field goal range, we gave up the losing 29-yard touchdown pass.

The season began by choking at the Bordeaux Vineyards, as an 84-yard pick six turned the game around for them and a late game 55-yard field goal completed their 17-15 late game heroics.

One thing is for sure, the game plan that we thought was okay enough has gone out of the window during our bye week. We've been working on something completely different and hope to see the results of it in week 5 against the North Plainfield Plague, the 2085 IHOF champions. Yes, our schedule is pretty heavy early on.

We may still need work on our offensive game plan as well. Ellis McAlister is once again struggling with completing passes, sitting at 54 percent on 113 attempts. His yards per attempt is a full yard lower than the last two seasons. Unsurprisingly, Theo Bondy is carrying this team with 43 receptions for league leading 536 yards and 4 touchdowns. Our second receiver is tight end Jessie Taylor with 6 catches. Artie Blazewicz has been benched after just 1 catch on 16 targets in he first two games. Tucker Gaylor responded with 4 catches for 58 yards against the Tucker Tigers of all teams.

We're still struggling to figure out who should be the main ball carrier. Leo Belin's 5.9 yards per carry make him the most efficient runner, but Thong's 4.8 yards per carry aren't too shabby. The staff is completely ignoring the instructions to use our rookie Francisco Patter, so far he's gotten 1 lousy carry while being on the field on 2 running plays. Say what now?

Okay, stay positive. We've played 3 close games, won the hardest of them and were kind of a coin flip away in the losses. So it goes. New game plan on defense. Maybe this will make this loaded defense finally start playing up to potential. No pressure, guys, just wanting you to do your jobs!
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Old 01-03-2020, 10:11 AM   #195
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General Manager notes: Ellis' reign coming to an end?
Four interceptions and a lost fumble. That too is Ellis McAlister.

Every now or then, when things go wrong, they go horribly wrong. In our home game against the North Plainfield Plague very little went wrong, actually. Sure, when our stupid cornerbacks decided to blitz, we got punished all four times, but basically today was all about an inefficient running game and a mostly a quarterback that couldn't keep the ball on the team.

Three times before in his career did Ellis McAlister get picked off more than 3 times in a single game. All of those off days happened in Oranje Haven and today was the fourth time. Granted, he was playing through the pains of a broken thumb, but he coped with it at the Tucker Tigers.

But elas, Ellis, it happens.

What makes it so interesting though? Some guy we signed off the street as an undrafted rookie free agent banged on the door of our head coach and asked for playing time. It was quarterback Francisco Farley. Granted, he got good grades in the pre-season, a guy that made unexpected good progress. But this guy is asking us to let him take over from a winning quarterback, from his own mentor. What gives? It's not like this went by behind the scenes, for whatever reason this somehow went out to the rest of the world and now we have a disgruntled second string quarterback, whom the staff will likely ignore entirely if McAlister gets hurt and will probably place our frickin' kick holder under center.

What about that rejuvenated game plan? It was okay, we held a pretty solid team to 281 total yards. It wasn't impressive, but it was a huge improvement over the first three games, where we looked lost on defense.

The offense probably needs some tweaking as well though. Like Artie Blazewicz, today it was Tucker Gaylor struggling with just 2 catches on 8 targets. The catches he made counted hard though (53 and 44 yards), but we can't have that when Theo Bondy is held to 10 catches for 115 yards, like today.

European division:
1. Paris 3-1
2. Bordeaux 2-2
3. Maassluis 1-3
4. Gothenburg 1-4

So, we're sitting 1-3 at our 1/4th of the season point, with a couple of home losses and every game could have coin flipped the other way. Well, I'd rather see us throw a six sided die with 3 or higher being in our favor. That's where we want to be. Or really, I want to see this loaded highest paid roster play up to their potential and post 8 solid wins and then see where the 8 coin flip games will go. Thinking about 12-4 is a very optimistic after a 1-3 start, I give you that.

Back to that Francisco Farley guy though, history learns that when young players start complaining about playing time, they seem to think they have the potential to be better than the current starter, or think they are at least starting material in this league. I'll applaud that thought if Farley really is that good. In fact, we'll have to somehow please this kid sooner or later as he's on a one-year minimum contract and if he's really that good, we don't want to lose him in free agency next off-season. We'll look at things later on, for now, we have a proven winner, a quarterback that on average has gotten us to 9-7 wild card round losers. Yeah, the last two seasons he actually posted post-season victories, in his 12th and 13th season in the league. Still, the keys are firmly in the hands of Ellis McAlister and we have no intention to let him hand them in.

For now...
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Old 01-03-2020, 05:40 PM   #196
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General Manager notes: the 2087 Roster!
I see you thinking: the season has started, but I missed the list of names that made the cut! Well, you're right, I didn't.

Yet!

Here's the breakdown of the 53 men that made the roster and why they made it.

posnamecur/futwhy he made the team
QBMcAlister55Well, let's face it, he became our franchise quarterback. Still sits at roughly 15th best in the league.
QBFarley20/35This kid made good progress in training camp. We have to see if this guy is the new McAlister.
KHMuchnick25Second best kick holder in the league. (Please stay out of our offense!)
RBBelin40Still recognizes holes, but lost a lot of his speed. Good for cohesion. Special teamer.
RBThongchanh45Hole recognition and breakaway speed. Special teamer.
RBPatter45/55Hole recognition, but too new to the team to carry it. Okay on third downs.
FBCochrane50Run blocker, can pick up the blitz.
FBBrosseau30/45Run blcoker. Potentially the best, but right now has to ride the bench.
TETaylor35Run blocker and special teamer.
TEBarker35Run blocker and special teamer.
TEKotz15/20special teamer and ok run blocker.
TEHolliday25/30Special teamer? Realistically just our emergency tight end in case of injuries.
WRBondy75Centerpiece of the offense, if not the eintre team.
WRBlazewicz40Decent WR2 last season, but he has to prove he still can play. Kickoff returner.
WRGaylor45Hard to explain, but this guy has the endurance, speed, route running and getting downfield skills.
WRDeWoody40Special teamer. Big-play receiver. If only he knew how to run routes...
WRSandlin25/40Younger version of Blazewicz, without the return skills.
LTHadinger65Elite pass blocker. Got to love that at left tackle.
GHank35Our cohesion bomb on the line.
CPearson75Solid center. Fits in our tradition of strong centers.
GSzott70Solid, no weakness. Must start.
RTHumphrey65Elite run blocker.
CLabbe30/50Elite run blocker. Potentially. Project or trade value? Time will tell.
GWatson25/50This kid has potential. (So we hope.)
LTHamilton25/40We needed a third tackle. (Cutting him would have been tough for the cap)
PGuynes55Well, we need a punter, don't we?
KRobertson80Best kicker in the league. (Really? This guy?)
DEKondovski45/60Potentially fastest pass rusher in the league. Can defende the run.
DERussell45Should-be elite pass rusher. Decent run defender.
DEExner35/45Pass rusher with decent run defense potential.
DEKemp40Pass rusher, obviously.
DEWylie30Special teamer and mentor. (I hope he doesn't get forced into action much).
DEWhiting30Pass rusher (but by lack of run defense skills just our 5th option).
DTOliver80We want an all-world defensive tackle and his name is Heath Oliver.
DTShrader30Declining, but knows the system and can still support the pass rush. Special teamer.
DTRitt35Pass rusher (shocker!)
LBEspino65This guy actually is a better pass defender than McCorkle, hence, his successor as our MLB.
LBMcCorkle75Seriously, this guy is an elite linebacker.
LBBrewer45Pass rusher, zone defender. This guy still can play!
LBJackson30/40Pass defender, pass rusher. Our future LB3?
LBCassidy20/35Special teamer.
CBHitchcock80Elite cornerback. Duh.
CBHancock45/55Zone defender, bump and run defender, interceptions. (Might be first round worthy afterall.)
CBBlackwell30Elite punt returner. Zone defender, interception skills, hence our nickelback.
CBMcNeil30/40Zone defender, interceptions, pontentially decent man to man defender.
CBWilson20/30Kickoff returner. (Can't cover a receiver, so plays stay off the defense!)
CBBroady15Punt returner, top 20 in the league. But not our best, hence burried deep with inactive role.
SMarty45Our least worst run stopper, interceptions magnet (says the staff, he's at 1 pick in 500+ plays).
SNewsome30Zone defender, play diagnosis, decent interceptions.
SFarrell45Zone defender, also decent man-to-man, interceptions, special teams.
SHarper20/35Special teamer, can tackle and potentially zone defend.
SUpshaw20/30Quite simply, a bust. (Don't tell him!) Kept to avoid agravating our cap situation in 2088.
LSBiegen20A long snapper, duh. Top12 in the league, per my staff.
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:37 PM   #197
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General Manager Notes: And that's two!
Alright, win number two is finally in the bags. Ten more in eleven games to go to get that desired 12-4 record.

Was it pretty? Well, to a degree it was. We were visiting the 1-4 Rochester Razorbacks and realized this was the kind of games we should win. And so we did. The defense played decently, holding the Razorbacks to 202 yards passing on 52 passing plays. They may have done better running the ball all day long. We didn't force any turnovers, but with only 2 drives allowed longer than 31 yards, we didn't really need them. About half their points came in garbage time in this solid 25-13 victory.

European division:
1. Paris 4-1
2. Bordeaux 2-3
3. Maassluis 2-3
4. Gothenburg 1-5

Wait what? Gothenburg dropped to 1-5? Yeah, the almost division champions from last season are having an even worse campaign than we are. Their first three losses were in similar fashion: winnable, but silliness cost them a victory or two. Their last two games were much less impressive though. The Giants aren't the kind of team they were last season. Yet?

Over on the French side of the division, the Paris Musketeers have finally played their first road game, avoiding a late game touchdown with a tremendous goal line stand and grabbing victory over the Toronto Lake Monsters in overtime. Despite their progress, they've just announced trade for Arizona Miners former #1 overall pick quarterback Blaine Hawkins. Ironically, really, as the Musketeers intercepted Hawkins 3 times in their week 2 clash against the Miners. Hawkins is considered a gifted passer, our staff says he's the third best in IHOF.

Our next stop? We'll be back in Oranje Haven to face the Toronto Lake Monsters. We've got a superior collective of players, but we all know that's not how football works. They've been playing tremendous football, running efficiently and keeping opponents from scoring a lot of points. Well, we're up to the challenge! Last time we faced them, Theo Bondy had 13 catches for 236 yards. We hope he can copy that and lead the way back to .500 land.
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Old 01-11-2020, 05:48 PM   #198
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General Manager notes: Playoff bound, seriously?
Not so long ago, I reported that we were trying to crawl out of a deep hole dug by our lack of ability to win close games. Now, I'm telling you we'll need a some serious bad luck to avoid the playoffs. Let's rephrase, we've done well enough lately that we're in a very good position to be able to reach the playoffs. What's up with that?

First of all, the defense finally woke up. Sample size is small to get overly enthusiastic, but a revived game plan might be at least somewhat of a cause here. We've gone on a serious stretch of good showings to improve from worst defense in the league after 5 games to slightly above average after 11 games. Which means we must have played quite a bit above average in the last 6 games to get there. We've had one horrible quarter against the Gothenburg Giants (3 long drives all for touchdowns), but for the most part it's been between good, pretty good and at the very least Merchantmen worthy.

Offensively, Reggie Thongchanh has stepped it up quite a bit. After two games of riding the bench, we've given him the ball quite a lot and he's responded our confidence with 4 more 100-yard games and 9 touchdowns in the last 6 games. Theodore Bondy saw his streak of 100-yard games end in a home game against Bordeaux, where he left the field injured with just 52 yards on 7 catches, then missing the follow up road game at Gothenburg, which we lost by lack of having an alternative game plan ready to roll out.

European Divison:
1. Maassluis 7-4
2. Paris 7-4
3. Gothenburg 4-7
4. Bordeaux 3-8

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we've crawled all the way back to the top, posting a firm 33-24 road victory at the Paris Musketeers and pulling an unexpected shutout victory over the Bordeaux Vineyards. In the process, we've also managed a road victory at the stout Chicago Norsemen defense and overcame a peculiarly horrible showing from Ellis McAlister (5 interceptions!) with a 21-20 win at the Harlem Apollos.

Yes, despite the victories, McAlister has really struggled. His passer rating in these last six games only once topped 72.3, he hasn't even sniffed at 300 yards. Our running game isn't just a welcome surprise, I think it a necessity to keep defenses honest.

Have we pulled McAlister in that series? Oh yes, our staff once again decided to throw our kick holder miserably excuse for a quarterback out there, despite that we have a promising rookie active. For a change, Francisco Farley can be reasonably displeased about not getting some playing time. Of course, we should never accept that our staff pulls a proven winning quarterback at half time in a favor of whatever we have on the bench, never ever. I'm still trying to figure out who's been responsible for this inexcusable decision. When Theodore Bondy is inactive due to injury, the worst thing we can do is take away our second most important player of the offense. Yes, I'm still non-amused.

But enough about our loss against the Giants, we've re-established ourselves with 6 wins in the last 7 games. With head-to-head victories over basically all the AOC teams in pursuit of the wild card places, we're in a favorable situation to at least reach the playoffs. Our week 15 clash with the Musketeers, in Oranje Haven, will be crucial for the division title tie-breakers. Mathematically, the Giants can still pass us in a week 17 head-to-head clash at their place. I mean, it wouldn't be the last time we pulled that kind of stunt of a choke job.

I hope we can figure out where we can make some improvements to McAlister's ability to find other players through the air than Theodore Bondy. And if he does, how we can make Bondy improve on his unsatisfying 6.9 yards per target. A player of his caliber should be able to sniff at 10 yards per target, but at least get way north of 8.5 to 9.0 per target. Wouldn't that be something, finding a way to have Bondy play up to his potential? Sure, 2,449 yards in a single season (last season) isn't shabby at all, but with his skills, he should be able to get 450 yards more, or open up the field for our other wide receivers to combine for that yardage.

For now, we'll cherish this somewhat unexpected, yet very logical revival. For a day or two and then get on with it: the next 8 or 9 games of this season. That should be our goal. We can do this, Merchantmen.
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 01-11-2020 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:40 PM   #199
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Europe reclaimed
Wait, what now? Isn't it only week 15?

Sometimes, things can be less complicated than all the various tie-breakers there can be required to seperate teams. Week 15 of the 2087 IHOF season feature us, the Maassluis Merchantmen, hosting the Paris Musketeers. We were the division leaders, with 1 win lead, practically set by the earlier head-to-head road victory in Paris. In essence, win and the division would be ours. Well, the team delivered, and quite convincingly.

First drive of the game, Maassluis possession. The Blazewicz special, ran by Chris DeWoody, fails, followed by a hurried pass, but on third and 10, Ellis McAlister connects with Theo Bondy for a 49 yard gain. Welcome to Oranje Haven, Paris. DeWoody delivered in the next play with a 19-yard catch and McAlister to Bondy from deep inside the red zone put us up 7-0 after less than 2 minutes.

It wasn't like the Musketeers didn't respond with their offense marching downfield, but our free safety Bart Farrell ended their first possession at our 30-yard line, which was eventually followed up with a 44-yard field goal and on the next Paris possession, again Farrell turned things over with a pick in the endzone. Free agent signing of the year? At least for a day he was.

Defenses started to take over in the second quarter, until we got another productive drive ending in Teggie Thongchanh's run from 6 yards out for the 17-0 lead. Several defensive stands followed and Paris finally got on the score board with a 33-yard kick with less than 3 minutes to go until the big break. We responded with a 41-yard kick of our own and maintained the 20-3 lead through the half time break.

Second half, Paris ball. The Musketeers put their best drive of the game so far on the field. Things get really interesting when they reach field goal range and rather than salvaging it on 3rd and 5, they go all out as Blaine Hawkins connects for a 26-yard throw into the end zone to tight end Rusty Fernandez to trim the deficit to 20-10. We punt, but on the next play force a fumble at our 41-yard line and eventually kick again: 23-10. Things got uglier for Paris three plays into their next possession as Lee Hancock picked off Hawkins at the Paris 30-yard line and 14 seconds into the fourth quarter we've kicked ourselves to a 26-10 lead.

We force three and out, follow up with a drive that results in a 28-yard field goal, but then Paris' Darrin Sheldon catches fire and returns the kickoff for 94 yards and a successful two-point conversion later it's 29-18 for us with just under 10 minutes to go. No worries, McAlister finds Theo for 54 yards on third and long to set up field goal for the 32-18 lead. We stop Paris on fourth down near midfield with just over 3 minutes to go and the crowd starts thinking this division title is pretty much secured. We eat some time, but Thong fumbles the ball in Paris territory and albeit without timeouts, they have 2 minutes remaining and the ball to keep their dreams for a comeback victory going. Blaine Hawkins marches his team downfield, but we stop them short of a touchdown with 54 seconds to go and on the next play, our rookie Archie Exner makes the sack for a 12-yard loss and virtually the game ender. Two failed plays later, it's over. Maassluis wins 32-18 and defends the European division title with success!

1. Maassluis 10-4
2. Paris 8-6
3. Gothenburg 7-7
4. Bordeaux 3-11

It was a good day overall. Granted, we were forced to kick quite a lot (6 times), but 454 yards of total offense isn't something we showcase week in, week out. 379 yards allowed isn't up to par with recent weeks, but against this loaded offense, it's a very good showing. Especially the 4 turnovers really changed the story of the game for us. Thong's late fumble ended up too little too late for Paris.

Theo was seriously back in business with 159 yards receiving after two games under 100 yards. Thongchanh ran for 91 yards, DeWoody gained 91 yards on 3 catches. Yes, the offense played well. McAlister threw for 327 yards and was happy to remain turnover free for a change. He's still leading the league in interceptions, but we don't worry too much as long as we rack up the victories and keep on doing that for 5 more games.

5 more? Aren't we just 10-4? Sure, but with all that's happening around the conference, we've moved into the second seed spot, which means two more wins will give us a bye and means five wins will give us the IHOF Bowl.

Okay, let's not get way too ahead of ourselves though, next up is a home game against the 8-6 Iowa Cobbers (last season they went 14-2) and the regular season ends with the most feared game of the season: at the Gothenburg Giants. We'll certainly go all out and aim for that 12-4 finish. Heck, if the Houston Mustangs lose one of their two remaining road games at wild card hopeful teams, we'll have a shot at the #1 seed. But again, that's getting ahead of ourselves.

For now, we're one of six teams with a ticket to the playoffs secured, it's a contrast with the miracle comeback last season. Sure, we've gone from 1-3 and behind a 5-1 division leader to claiming the division 2 week ahead of schedule, but this is the first step to success this season.

Yes, Iowa up next. C'mon Merchantmen, we can do this.
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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