For the New York Gothams, 1931 represented an "all-in" opportunity to win the franchise's first championship since 1896. They certainly had the firepower to make it happen, having acquired the game's pre-eminent slugger in a big offseason trade following a disappointing finish to the 1930 World Championship Series, a seven-game loss to the Philadelphia Sailors. Max Morris was brought on board to push the Gothams over the hump. And he did his part with a .331 average, 34 homers and 105 RBIs, all of which led the team. The pitching was there too - Jim Lonardo offered up an encore to his 1929 Allen Award season with another Allen Award, going 20-9 with a 3.18 ERA and cementing himself as the Fed's best pitcher. Walter Murphy (14-13, 3.86) was a nice lefty complement to Lonardo as well. The problem turned out to be health. Big contributors such as Bud Jameson, Al Allen and the newly-acquired Joe Perret all missed significant time, which weakened the club, albeit not by enough to cost them the pennant. The Gothams did win the flag, posting a 93-61 mark to beat out their rivals from Philadelphia by three games.

Speaking of those Philadelphia Keystones, they had another "almost-but-not-quite" year behind the Fed's most potent lineup and a middle-of-the-road pitching staff. 1B Rankin Kellogg (.367-36-139) was phenomenal as always and a new star burst onto the scene in 20-year-old phenom Bobby Barrell. The eighth-son of OSA co-founder Rufus Barrell was a revelation in his rookie campaign, with 202 hits, 34 doubles, 12 triples and 19 home runs, finishing with a .325 average, 112 runs scored and 97 RBIs while providing excellent defense in right field. With three other .300-plus hitters in the lineup, Philly as usual had no problem scoring in bunches. Stopping the opposition was still something of a problem - though not as much as it had been. Bill Ross (16-9, 3.28) was dependable and 23-year-old lefty Frank Crawford (8-3, 3.15) was tantalizing in his 11 starts, but overall the pitching was average, and with the Gothams' star-studded roster, it wasn't quite good enough to catch the New Yorkers.

Detroit rounded out a top-three that mirrored exactly the 1929 order of finish. With an 87-67 mark, they were six games off the pace but their offense suffered a down season from star RF Al Wheeler (.310-22-97), though they did get good production from 3B Frank Vance (.321-16-104) and LF Henry Jones (.303-21-102). Veteran Roy Calfee (19-12, 2.97) was great as usual and Mel Strom (18-8, 3.49) played the second banana role to the hilt. But against the two heavyweights at the top of the loop, the Dynamos were a bit out of their weight class in '31.

Boston (79-75) rounded out the first division thanks in large part to good pitching. Lefty Al Carroll (18-10, 2.79) was outstanding at the top of the rotation and Joe Hogue (16-12, 3.34) was dependable. Joe Dorsainvil (10-13, 4.37) pitched better than his numbers would indicate. The offense is where the Minutemen were let down. 3B Charlie Barry (.350-10-104) and 1B Carl Carr (.344-6-85) starred but the other pieces were subpar and the club finished just +31 in run differential despite being the third-stingiest in terms of runs allowed in the Federal.

Chicago (73-81) and Washington (73-81) tied for fifth and did so in nearly identical fashion with top-half offenses (the Eagles scored 798 runs, third-best and the Chiefs 797, fourth-best) and bottom half runs allowed (828 for Washington, 6th and 859 for Chicago, 7th). Catcher T.R. Goins (.340-27-119) had his typical strong season with 2B Andy Carter(.350, 115 runs, 91 RBIs) again being the only other top performer on the Eagles roster. 34-year-old Dick Dennis (18-13, 4.20) was easily the best of a subpar group of pitchers in the nation's capital. Similarly, the Chiefs got their usual production from LF Jim Hampton (.330-15-113) though his homers were down a bit and 1B Bob Martin hit .345 while 3B Joe Masters suffered a down year (.291-17-94). Lefty Sam Reichmann was the most promising of a rather uninspiring group of Chief hurlers. The 28-year-old posted a 12-8 mark and 3.51 ERA in 24 starts. Ace Ernie Newman led the team with 32 starts and 260.1 innings, but finished 12-18 with a 4.84 ERA.

Pittsburgh finished seventh for a second-straight season thanks in large part to the Fed's worst offense (702 runs). The good news is that pitching was average, which is a good sign as the general consensus is that its easier to find good hitting than pitching these days. The club's two best hitters: C Jim Pool (.259-14-85) and RF Frank Lightbody (.309-3-68) had off years while LF Jim Renfroe suffered through another injury plagued campaign playing in just 92 games leaving 22-year-old 2B Ed Stewart (.299-17-82) as the club's top contributor at the dish. P Ollie Denton followed up a solid 1930 season with a 12-13, 3.56 effort in '31, leading his teams in innings and ERA. Bill Morrill (14-11, 4.34) and Jim Smith (11-19, 4.32) along with Marco Ramirez (10-11, 3.58) rounded out the Miners' rotation.

Last-place again was held down by the St. Louis Pioneers, who having dealt away Max Morris were now in full-on rebuild mode. Their 53-101 record was FABL's worst. They allowed the most runs (a whopping 957) while avoiding last-place in runs scored by plating just seven more runs than Pittsburgh. The Pioneers had a lot of young faces in the lineup, with 25-year old 3B Fred Miller (.350, 22 triples), 21-year-old 1B Fred McCormick (acquired from NY as part of the Morris deal) hitting .350 with 45 doubles and 19 triples and 22-year-old SS Ray Russell (.304) being prominent. The pitching was a bit of a shambles. Lefty Joe Shaffner was the "ace" and pitched fairly well with a 3.94 ERA, but posted a 7-18 won-loss record. Lefty Rick Walther made 16 starts, posting a 5-5 mark and 3.41 ERA but outside of those two, the remaining pitchers' stats lines were u-g-l-y. The Pioneers did pick up some good prospects in the Morris deal and nabbed promising young 2B Freddie Jones with the #2 pick in the draft, so fresh talent is coming in. The Pioneers need only look to the team that won the 1931 title for inspiration as that club rose from some terrible seasons on a wave of youth to conquer FABL.

FEDERAL ASSOCIATION
Team			W	L	WPct	GB	R	RA
New York Gothams	93	61	.604	-	840	680
Philadelphia Keystones	90	64	.584	3	874	767
Detroit Dynamos		87	67	.565	6	789	669
Boston Minutemen	79	75	.513	14	754	723
Chicago Chiefs		73	81	.474	20	797	859
Washington Eagles	73	81	.474	20	798	828
Pittsburgh Miners	68	86	.442	25	702	780
St. Louis Pioneers	53	101	.344	40	709	957

Whitney Award: Rankin Kellogg, PHI: .367/.451/.645, 603 AB, 36 HR, 121 R, 139 RBI, 8.6 WAR
Allen Award: Jim Lonardo, NYG: 20-9. 3.18 ERA, 277.1 IP, 1.10 WHIP, 4.1 K/9m 5.9 WAR

That aforementioned club was the Chicago Cougars. Chicago, starting in 1925, finished 7th three straight years, then 8th the next two, before youth and some key trades paid dividends with a rise to fourth-place in 1930 that set the stage for the club to win it's first pennant in a decade with a 91-63 mark in 1931.

The Cougars were good, and young. While many key components were home-grown talent acquired via the draft, there was one new face brought in that paid huge dividends in the pennant-winning campaign: RF Tom Taylor. The former Sailors star was dealt by the defending champs to the Cougars just before the start of spring training for a trio of prospects. Taylor had suffered through a subpar 1929 campaign but bounced back nicely in Chicago where he posted a .290 average with 29 homers and 107 RBIs. Leading a slew of players 27-and-under (he himself was just 26) Taylor gave the Cougars some needed pop as only Vince York (.348-11-104) and Bill Ashbaugh (.326-11-95) managed to reach double-figures in homers. Five regulars hit .300 or better and the club scored 809 runs, second only to the NY Stars. The pitching was good, not great, finishing fifth in the CA in runs allowed (712), but the top three of Jim Crawford (18-11, 3.15), Max Wilder (16-13, 3.68) and Dick Lyons (17-7, 3.68) was very solid. Dick Luedtke (15-11, 4.10) and Steve Castellini, who was acquired from the Gothams and went 10-14, 4.71, gave the Cougars a thoroughly reliable staff behind their good offense.

Baltimore had a third-straight solid finish with an 85-69 record, good for a second straight runner-up finish after ending up third in 1929. LF Lou Kelly continued to be the straw that stirred the drink in Baltimore, with a .309-30-111 effort leading the league in homers and finishing third in RBIs. But he didn't get much support from his team mates, and the Cannons scored 728 runs, good for just fifth-best. The pitching was good, finishing third behind the stellar staffs of Philly and New York in runs allowed with 699. The Cannons relied on their double-barrel ace tandem of Rabbit Day (19-15, 3.56) and Ken Carpenter (22-15, 3.85) with Bob Miller (15-16, 4.04) and Dutch Leverett (17.15, 4.71) rounding out the rotation.

In New York, the Stars returned to relevance after an uncharacteristically poor 5th-place finish in 1930. The Stars went 84-70 to finish third, seven games off the pace. 3B John Lawson copped a second-straight Whitney Award after hitting .359 with 43 doubles, 13 homers and 117 RBIs. 2B Pete Layton (.353-13-81) and 1B Dave Trowbridge (.332-16-125) gave the Stars a pun-intended "stellar" infield - adding in SS Bill Rich, the top four performers in terms of WAR on the Stars were their infielders. The pitching, as has been traditional around Riverside Park, was terrific. Old warhorse Dick Richards (17-10, 2.83) did his usual thing, but got some help from the next generation with 24-year-old Lou Martino (17-7, 3.77) and 25-year-old Gene Stevens (11-16, 3.46) key contributors and old friend Mutt Pharr returning to form with a 14-9, 3.70 mark.

Across the East River in Brooklyn you can always say one thing: the Kings are never boring. Brooklyn may have finished in the second division in 1928 and '29, but they showed some signs of progress in 1931. With a "never sit still" attitude, the willingness to wheel & deal the Kings' brass has displayed paid some serious dividends in pushing the club to a fourth-place finish at 82-72. The first key was the trade-day acquisition of Tommy Wilcox back in 1928. A big, strong right-hander, Wilcox emerged as a true quality workhorse in '31, going 22-16 with a 3.94 ERA in 39 starts, racking up 320 innings to lead all of FABL. And joining him in the Kings rotation was 21-year-old phenom Milt Fritz. Acquired from the Chicago Chiefsfor a bundle of four players and a 1st-round draft pick, Fritz copped the Allen Award with a 23-15, 3.08 effort (and he finished with 318.1 innings in 39 starts of his own). With two young and talented hurlers leading the way, the Kings took a big step forward in the area in which they most needed to step it up. The hitting, as usual, was good, this time finishing third in the Continental in runs scored. Catcher Mike Taylor (.330-14-80), 1B Jake Shadoan (.337-5-90) and CF Ab Thomas (.331-4-56, 94 runs scored) all 26 or younger, teamed up with franchise star Doug Lightbody (.358-6-85) to keep the Kings lineup humming along. You'd need to look hard to find someone over 30 on this team and the future certainly looked bright in Brooklyn.

Three straight pennants may have spoiled the faithful in Philadelphia and the Sailors' tumble to fifth-place caused some serious consternation around Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Stadium. The Sailors pulled into port with an 80-74 record - not bad by most measures, but something of a disappointment after three straight pennants and two titles. Tom Taylor was gone, but the rest of the lineup was intact and 1B Dick Walker (.300, 30 doubles, 13 triples, 10 homers, 115 walks) remained a force, but the team managed just a fourth-best 743 runs scored. The pitching too was still potent and allowed a league-low 636 runs. Some of the team's fifth-place finish was due to simple bad luck - a look at the Pythagorean records would have placed them second to the Stars - and ahead of the pennant-winning Cougars. With a staff consisting of William Jones (19-12, 2.38), Oscar Morse (18-16, 3.17) and Rollie Beal (18-12, 2.72), the Sailors underachieved, but remained eminently dangerous in an increasingly tough Continental Association.

The Saints took a step back in '31. Montreal had climbed into serious contention in 1930 so many in Quebec thought the club's long drought was at an end. Alas, it was not to be as the Saints delivered one of the most anemic offensive performances in recent memory, scoring just 642 runs, the worst in the league, en route to a 68-86 record and sixth-place finish. Cliff Moss, who had established himself as a potential star, delivered a decent .295-18-79 season but the fact that those 79 RBIs led the team says a lot about the club's lack of punch. A midseason deal of ace Charlie Steadman to the Stars didn't help in the short-term but did bring in a trio of players who it was hoped would be contributors down the road. With Steadman gone, the mantle of ace fell upon lefty Walker Moore, a 24-year-old who posted a 15-15, 4.54 mark. With a pair of 34-year-olds (Dave Paynter & Rich Fisher) holding down two of the rotation spots, the hope in Montreal is that the Saints can find some dependable young arms to support Moore.

The Toronto Wolves have looked more like lambs in recent seasons, and that continued in 1931 with another second-division finish. Toronto's 66-88 record and 7th-place finish marked their fourth straight season with 69 or fewer victories. Still, it was 16 games better than their dismal 1930 campaign, so that represented some measure of progress. Toronto lacks a true offensive star: 23-year-old 2B Sam Orr, who hit .319 with 34 doubles, 10 triples while scoring 92 runs is the closest thing the Wolves have, and no one hit more than five homers. And the pitching situation is only slightly more promising. 26-year-old Frank Howk (12-17, 3.74) is the closest thing to an ace on the Wolves. 27-year-old lefty Barry Wood (11-13, 3.85) and 30-year-old Birdie Smith (10-18, 5.05, 262 innings) at least showed the ability to log innings, but this group needs improvement if the Wolves are to ever howl again.

The Cleveland Foresters posted their third-straight season with fewer than 70 wins and their 60-94 record dropped them into last place after two straight 7th-place finishes. The team is young, with no player 30 or over on the roster. But there are also no clear-cut stars in the making. LF Moxie Pidgeon, at 24, might be the closest thing. He turned in a .269-23-92 season and both 3B Jake Moore (28 y/o, .293-9-88) and CF Bobby Allen (26 y/o, .276-16-69) are serviceable but the farm system needs to bear fruit for the Foresters to start contending. The cupboard was pretty bare on the pitching side as well, evidenced by 13 different players getting a starting nod in 1931. The only pitcher to top 200 innings was lefty Karl Johnson, whose 9-16, 4.47 record indicates how pitching-starved this club was.

The World Championship Series saw the New York Gothams return for a second-straight year, this time against the new flag-bearers of the Continental: the Chicago Cougars. Chicago held Max Morris, who was making his return to the game's biggest stage after last appearing in 1921, to a .273 average with no home runs. With both Bud Jameson and Joe Perret out, the Cougars defeated the injury-depleted Gothams four games to two with Jim Lonardo winning both games for New York. Chicago catcher Fred Barrell copped the MVP for the Series, going 14-for-24 for a .609 average, scoring five runs and driving home four.

CONTINENTAL ASSOCIATION
Team			W	L	WPct	GB	R	RA
New York Gothams	93	61	.604	-	840	680
Philadelphia Keystones	90	64	.584	3	874	767
Detroit Dynamos		87	67	.565	6	789	669
Boston Minutemen	79	75	.513	14	754	723
Chicago Chiefs		73	81	.474	20	797	859
Washington Eagles	73	81	.474	20	798	828
Pittsburgh Miners	68	86	.442	25	702	780
St. Louis Pioneers	53	101	.344	40	709	957

Whitney Award: John Lawson, NYS: .359/.406/.502, 643 AB, 13 HR, 2 SB, 117 RBI, 7.0 WAR
Allen Award: Milt Fritz, BRK: 23-15, 3.08 ERA, 318.1 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 3.7 K/9, 6.5 WAR