Santa Lechuga is a fictional town located just outside Salinas, California, created in early 2000 by Monterey Herald columnist Joe Livernois. Through this town, Livernois was able to parody the numbskull machinations of small town politics without directly offending the actual numbskulls. The characters who inhabited Santa Lechuga were colorful, vivid, inept, and small-minded creatures lumbering through their pitiful existences -- mirroring their real-life counterparts in the real-life towns near the fictional Santa Lechuga.
Livernois told the tales of Santa Lechuga so well that the publishers at the Monterey Herald demanded that he stop writing about the town. It turned out that some readers, who apparently didn't realize his loopy accounts were pure fiction, were calling to complain that they couldn't find the town! Some, exasperated and calling from cell phones along the highway, complained that they had driven for hours looking for the town so that they could meet the characters Livernois wrote about. Several months after having the plug pulled on Santa Lechuga, Livernois wrote:
But that wasn't the end of Santa Lechuga. Since being forced to stop writing about the town in his column, Livernois decided to combine one of his favorite things in life -- baseball -- with Santa Lechuga. Thus, the Santa Lechuga Power League was born. The SLPL is a Fantasy Baseball League for baseball fans who actually have a life and don't have the time to track daily statistics, make 2:00 a.m. trades, or worry about whether or not Julio Franco's pulled groin muscle will keep his on-base percentage low.
Livernois' fantasy baseball concept was simple: Award points to a hitter when he hit a home run and subtract points every time he struck out. Award points to a pitcher for every strike out he throws and subtract points when he gives up a home run. Further, Livernois kept rosters simple by allowing team owners to share players and by limiting the number of "trades." Team owners could choose their teams at the beginning of the year, sit back, and watch to see how they did. No tedious stats tracking. No negotiating with fellow owners to try to swap shortstops. No geeking out.
The SLPL was an instant success. Besides building a loyal following -- which many credited to the fancy camerawork, fast play, and in-your-face, voluptuous cheerleaders -- the league made it easy for lazy owners to sit back and do nothing for an entire season, a comfort enjoyed by many actual Major League Baseball owners. Vince Livernois' The Livernoids of Sacramento, California, was crowned the first champion of the Santa Lechuga Power League in 2000; Scott Brown's White Man's Overbite of Monterey, California, was crowned the 2001 SLPL champ.
The Santa Lechuga Power League developed it's share of critics during it's first two years. Some say the fancy camerawork, fast play, and in-your-face, voluptuous cheerleaders degraded the sport, obviously missing the fact that this is a fantasy baseball league. Others critics have hounded endlessly on the death and destruction left in the wake of the now infamous Bobblehead-of-Lettuce, which was called "insidious" by The Boston Globe, "absolute evil" by the Christian Science Monitor , and "the pinnacle of everything that's good in this world" by Osama bin Laden. (Click here to read how the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce doll went from being an innocent souvenir to the most despised item on the face of the earth.)
Despite the critics, the Santa Lechuga Power League is thriving. At this writing in early 2002, SLPL Commissioner Rube Furrow hopes the league will have at least 40 teams in 2002, up from 18 in 2001. Furrow has also announced that the league will go international this year with ownership groups in Mexico already having signed letters of intent to join the league. Rumors are that Furrow is also hoping to also expand into Canada, Japan, Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.