January 30, 2012

April 3, 1984 - 15 Inning Thriller

Game #9 - Montreal Expos, 1 @ Houston Astros, 2 (15 Innings)
I was going to wait and clump all the final NL games for April 3 in one post, but the battle between the Expos and Astros could wind up being the most exciting game of the entire season. (Although I hope not - it wouldn't give me much to look forward to...)

The Astros scored the first run in the bottom of the first when Jose Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to score Dickie Thon, who had just nailed a triple. The Expos would tie it up in the top of the third with Tim Wallach hitting a double that scored Andre Dawson. Those are the only runs that were given up by starting pitchers Bill Gullickson and Joe Niekro.

Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, lead off hitter Jerry Mumphrey fouled a ball back into the stands but near the field of play. Expos catcher Gary Carter injured himself diving into the stands trying to catch it and had to leave the game, replaced by rarely used backup Bobby Ramos. (Gary Carter played in a 159 games in 1984. 159!!!) Jeff Reardon was pitching at this point, and two batters later bobbled a soft grounder for an error against Enos Cabell, giving the Astros two men on with only one out. But Reardon got Denny Walling to ground into a double play to force the game into extra frames.

The game remained tight into the bottom of the twelfth. Astros OF Terry Puhl led off with a surprise bunt for a hit. Cabell sacrificed him to second base, giving the Astros two outs to push Puhl across home plate. I substituted the left handed Denny Walling for rightie Phil Garner since Dan Schatzeder, the southpaw reliever, was on the mound. Garner ripped a single to center field, and the third base coach frantically waived Puhl to home plate. But Expos center fielder Andre Dawson made like Gandalf the Grey and declared, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!" He rifled the throw in from center and gunned down Puhl to keep the game tied. Schatzeder kept it interesting by walking the next hitter and giving up an infield hit to pinch hitter Jim Pankovits. Unfortunately for the Astros, Bill Doran grounded out to end the threat.

In the top of the 13th Tim Raines got his first hit of the game and promptly stole second base on a blown hit and run by Pete Rose. (Weird, I know - Pete Rose on the Expos. Another fun quirk about the 1984 season) Rose grounded out to shortstop Dickie Thon but Raines took third base on the play. That meant substitute catcher Bobby Ramos was up at bat. He attempted the suicide squeeze to score Raines, but the Astros were able to throw him out at the plate. Dawson struck out and the game pressed on.

In the bottom of the 15th Greg Harris (a 2-9 PB rating - the best rating for a pitcher in Statis Pro) took the hill for the Expos. Pankovits, who stayed in the game to play second when I put Astros reliever Dave Smith in Doran's spot, started things off with a single. Craig Reynolds pinch hit for Smith and laid down a sacrifice bunt to move over Pankovits, but, you guessed it, shouldn't-have-even-been-in-the-game Bobby Ramos bobbled the bunt, allowing Reynolds to make it to first safely with Pankovits standing on second. Dickie Thon hit a fielder's choice for the force out of Reynolds at second, leaving runners on the corners with one out for Jose Cruz. Cruz finally ended it, smoking a double to score Pankovits and record his second RBI of the game. Astros win!

Winning Pitcher - Dave Smith
Losing Pitcher - Greg Harris
Player of the Game - Jose Cruz, game winning double, 2RBI's
Injury - Gary Carter, he'll miss the next game too.
Hall of Famers in the Game - Pete Rose, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson

Jose Cruz, in my humble opinion, was the best National League outfielder in 1984 not named Dale Murphy. He had a monster season in the ultimate pitcher's park, the Astrodome. It makes me feel old that both Cruz AND his son, Jose Jr., are retired from the game.

I can't say enough for the bullpens of the Expos and Astros. On paper they've looked like the best I've seen since printing off the teams, and their dominant performances in this game seems to prove it.

January 29, 2012

April 3, 1984 - Second Guessing Myself

Game #8 - Philadelphia Phillies, 0 @ Atlanta Braves, 10
Today was the first time since starting this season I second guessed myself on the managerial moves I made. The first situation occurred in the bottom of the first. Rafael Ramirez and Dale Murphy were on second and third after Murph crushed a double. With one out, first base open, and Bob Horner at bat, I had Steve Carlton intentionally walk Horner to load the bases with the hope Albert Hall would ground into the double play. Instead, he hit a grand slam. (Albert Hall had one home run in the real 1984 season - I bet it wasn't an opening day grand slam)

The second situation was the bottom of the fourth. Gerald Perry was on third and Ramirez was on second after Glenn Wilson was unable to throw out Bruce Bennedict at the plate. Murphy was up with two outs. I could have walked him to load the bases and face Horner. Instead, I had Carlton pitch to him and he smashed a three run homer, which ended Carlton's day. Should I have walked Murphy to face Horner? Horner could swing it back in the day...

Atlanta's starting pitcher Pascual Perez, famous for being the eldest of a gaggle of MLB pitching brothers and also once getting lost while driving to the stadium, pitched an absolute gem for the Braves. He shut out the Phillies while striking out six. He even managed an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded. Mike Schmidt had an uncharacteristically bad day, going 0-4 and stranding two runners in the sixth while also making two errors in the field.

There was an unusual "Z" play this game too. An umpire thought relief pitcher Don Carman went to his mouth before delivering a pitch and awarded Gerald Perry a walk (the bases were loaded). In my imagination I got myself tossed from the game to go out and protect my player and give the man in blue a piece of my mind. I'm sure Don appreciated it.

Winning Pitcher - Pascual Perez
Losing Pitcher - Steve Carlton
Hall of Famers in the Game - Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton
Player of the Game - Pascual Perez, SHO, 6K's, 6H's, 2BB's

I'm a little busy this week so I may not get a new game posted for a few days. The American League standings are updated too.

January 27, 2012

April 3, 1984 - Rest of the AL Games

I can see now one of the best features of playing a full season of Statis Pro will be the chance to shine a spotlight on the...how should I put this? Less talented players? I mean no disrespect with that statement. If you played even one inning at the Major League level, you have proven yourself a supremely gifted athlete. But in the grind of the 162 game season, it won't always be Mike Schmidt or Tony Gwynn as the star of the game. Today's post honors the "other guys."

Game #5 - Detroit Tigers (1-0), 8 @ Minnesota Twins (0-1), 3
We all know what a hot topic Jack Morris' Hall of Fame candidacy creates. Today's game seemed to be the quintessential argument both for and against his enshrinement. Pro-Morris supporters would comment that he carried a no hitter into the bottom of the seventh against the Twins. His detractors would probably mention he had walked five batters and hit another before DH Randy Bush broke the no-no with a double. Morris "gutted out" 8 2/3 innings before finally running out of gas. Dave Bergman was the star on offense and even made a sweet unassisted double play while Alan Trammell belted a three run homer too.
Winning Pitcher: Jack Morris
Losing Pitcher: Mike Smithson
Player of the Game: Dave Bergman, 3-3, 2R, 2RBI, 2b
Hall of Famers in the Game: Kirby Puckett (though you could argue for Morris, Trammell, Whitaker, Evans...)

Game #6 - Milwaukee Brewers (0-1), 1 @ Oakland Athletics (1-0), 2
This was a very uneventful game as Steve McCatty (and his 2-5 PB rating, which is the worst you can have in Statis Pro) scattered 10 hits across seven innings, sticking poor Don Sutton with the complete game loss.
Winning Pitcher: Steve McCatty
Losing Pitcher: Don Sutton
Player of the Game: Steve McCatty, 7IP, 1R, 1K, 2BB
Hall of Famers in the Game: Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Don Sutton, Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan

Game #7 - Cleveland Indians (1-0), 18 @ Texas Rangers (0-1), 3
You read that right folks. The Indians tagged the Rangers with 18 runs on opening day. Every Indian hitter had at least one hit and one RBI. The Rangers committed 4(!) errors in the infield as Hough couldn't get his knuckler going and the bullpen got murdered.
Winning Pitcher: Bert Blyleven
Losing Pitcher: Charlie Hough
Player of the Game: Jerry Willard, C - 4-5, 1HR, 4RBI, 4R's, 1BB
Hall of Famers in the Game: Bert Blyleven

January 25, 2012

April 3, 1984 - Extra Inning Rain

I'm still tinkering with how to format these posts, report the scores, etc, so hang in there with me!

It occurred to me that I should explain more about Statis Pro Baseball as well - many of you have probably never played it. The easiest way to describe it is as a tabletop board game that simulates a real game with a surprising amount of detail and accuracy, especially because you are using actual teams and players with season specific data. For instance, 1927 Babe Ruth is much more likely to hit a home run in this game than 1989 Vince Coleman. "Fast action cards" determine the outcomes of at-bats, including if the action is based on the pitcher's card or the hitter's card. Each player's card dictates the probability of a hit or an out, etc.

If there are men on base you consult "out charts" to determine outcomes related to the runners. For instance, the Yankees and Royals today hit into six combined double plays.

One of the best surprises in Statis Pro, however, are the "z" plays. When a "z" shows up on the "fast action card," you know something out of the ordinary is about to happen. It can include player ejections, injuries, spectacular fielding plays, and...rain. Today the Yankees and Royals were knotted up at 3 runs each in the top of the 11th when, as Don Baylor dug into the batter's box, a monsoon erupted over Kansas City. So, technically speaking, this game concluded on April 4th, before their next scheduled game together. This proved to be a game changer because it forced Dave Righetti and Dan Quisenberry off the mound.

With one out in the top 11th, Steve Kemp, Butch Wynegar and Mike Pagliarulo had the bases loaded. Joe Beckwith got Bobby Meachem to ground out but Kemp scored on the play. Willie Randolph added an insurance run with a single. Mike Armstrong walked Frank White but coaxed Don Slaught into a game ending double play in the bottom of the inning.

Game #4 - New York Yankees (1-0), 5 @ Kansas City Royals (0-1), 3 (11 Innings)
Winning Pitcher - Mike Armstrong
Losing Pitcher - Joe Beckwith
Player of the Game - Willie Randolph, 3-5, 1R, 1RBI, 1BB
Hall of Famers in the Game - Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro, George Brett

I'll have more of the April 3 games posted soon!

January 23, 2012

April 2, 1984

Game #1 - Chicago White Sox (0-1), 1 @ Baltimore Orioles (1-0), 9
The 1983 World Series champs Orioles started their title defense in grand fashion as they whipped the White Sox on opening day. Eddie Murray bombed a two run homer in the bottom of the first, followed by another moon shot from Ken Singleton. Gary Roenicke added a pinch hit grand slam later to further the damage. Mike Boddicker went the distance surrendering just one run on a Carlton Fisk homer.
Player of the Game: Mike Boddicker, 9IP, 4K's, 5H's, 2W's, 1ER
Hall of Famers in the Game: Carlton Fisk, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray

Game #2 - Boston Red Sox (0-1), 2 @ California Angels (1-0), 3
This was very much a pitcher's duel as Bruce Hurst and Ken Forsch both went the distance. Hurst gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th on a Fred Lynn solo homer and a 2RBI double to Gary Pettis.* The Red Sox responded in the top half of the 5th with a two run homer from Tony Armas (whose on his way to repeat as the 1984 AL home run leader), but that's all they can muster in the game. Bob Boone was injured in the top of the second inning when Mike Easler fouled a ball off of him. Boone is out for 12 games, so I decided to do an actual "15 Day DL." This is problematic for the Angels because in the real 1984 Boone played in 137 games behind the plate. Jerry Narron will be cashing in a lot of his backup games early!
Player of the Game: Gary Pettis, 3-3, 2b, 2RBI's, 1SB, 1W
Hall of Famers in the Game: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson
*That's not the real Gary Pettis in the 1985 Topps Card - if memory serves me, it was his kid brother.

Game #3 - New York Mets (1-0), 11 @ Cincinnati Reds (0-1), 5
Darryl Strawberry got the party started in the top of the 1st with a three run homer, and the Mets would eventually score 8 more to win. Ron Darling got the win despite giving up 5 runs (1 unearned after a Hubie Brooks throwing error). He did strikeout 9 Reds though. Tom Gorman had a solid two innings of relief to allow the Mets to go ahead for good. For Cincy, Nick Esasky had a two run shot, as did Cesar Cedeno, but it wasn't enough as Mario Soto and three relievers couldn't quiet the Mets' bats.
Player of the Game: Mookie Wilson, 5-6, 3R's, 1RBI, 1SB
That's all for April 2 - only three games were on the schedule!

First post - here we go!

Hello all - thanks for stopping by and checking this out. In the mid 1980's my father bought me Statis Pro Baseball. As a grade school kid with an exponentially growing interest in baseball he couldn't have given me a better present. I remember sitting at the dining room table with him learning to play the game. He was usually his favorite team, the Dodgers, while I would play with my favorite, the Orioles. My dad always seemed to win, either on a fluke Ken Landreaux double or a pitching gem from Alejandro Pena. I loved batting Alan Wiggins lead off, hoping Cal Ripken Jr. or Eddie Murray would knock him in.

My other favorite gift from my parents as a kid was my annual Topps baseball card set. My first one was the 1985 set, which on the card backs corresponded with the 1984 season. I loved those cards and spent hours upon hours studying them, dividing them into teams, mock drafting new teams, etc. The design of the cards were simple, colorful, and mesmerizing. I still think it is the best designed card Topps ever put out (my apologies to the fans of the wood panel backgrounds).

A couple of Christmases ago my dad found someone online who was selling a cd with over fifty different seasons of Statis Pro team cards. Our game (a picture of it is on the front of the blog) only came with the 1985 season. We've had a blast drawing random teams from random years and doing battle once again. Recently we've played a version of "king of the hill," where the winner gets to keep playing with his team while the loser draws for a new challenger. (Don't get my dad started on his odds-defying, four game win steak with the 1979 A's...)

Anyway, I've recently stumbled across some baseball card blogs showcasing my favorite team (http://oriolescards.blogspot.com/) and my favorite Topps set (http://1985topps.blogspot.com/). It got me thinking - what if I could play a season with my old friends from 1984?
So, this blog will be my chronicle of walking down baseball memory lane, using my favorite board game from my childhood. It doesn't hurt that 1984 was such an interesting season, too. Will the Tigers win it all again? Could the Cubs defeat the Padres this time and break the curse? Will Tony Armas still lead the American League in home runs?

Here's a few ground rules to start with:
1. I'm kind of making this up as I go - the point is to have fun.
2. I'm following the real 1984 baseball schedule.
3. I'm trying my best to record the stats of each game and will update league leaders every now and then.
4. I'm sticking to 25 man rosters, but I'm not going to strictly adhere to "when" a player was on the active roster relative to the point in the season I'm playing. This is a hobby for me, but I don't want to drill down too insanely deep - even attempting this is insane enough.
5. I'll be "coaching" both teams in a game. I will try and do this as objectively as possible. One advantage I have is knowing the original outcome of the 1984 season. That influences my batting orders, reliever choices, etc.
6. I'll give a brief recap of each game, but I'm not going to reprint entire box scores. That feels too tedious to me.
7. I plan to have a "Player of the Game" for each game, and hope to feature their 1985 Topps card in the recaps.

Anyway, I may be the only person who reads this, but oh well. Let's play ball!