Sunday, April 5, 2020

6th Straight A.L. West Title for Athletics

We continue with the 'Oakland Dynasty' project, which is conducted with Out of the Park 20. This is a "What if" project, an alternate opposition to Finley self-destructing the team.We last left off with Oakland at the 1976 All-Star Break.


The Oakland Athletics were able to fend off the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, to win the American League West for the 6th consecutive year. This year they hope to return to the World Series for the 5th time in 6 years, but they will have to get by the A.L. East Champion Boston Red Sox to do so.

The Red Sox won the A.L. East with a 88-74 record, winning the division by 3 games over the 2nd place New York Yankees. The Cleveland Indians who were looking good at the All-Star break faded, finishing in 3rd place with a 78-84 record, 10 games back. The defending World Champion Baltimore Orioles finished in 4th, 76-86.

The American League West featured three 90-win teams in Oakland (99-63), Minnesota (97-65) & California (94-68).

The National League featured the only 100-win teams in baseball, with the St. Louis Cardinals (103-59) winning the N.L. East, and the N.L. West Champion Cincinnati Reds (109-53). Both teams also won their divisions by 10 or more games. The 2nd place San Francisco Giants won 98 games. The Cardinals were powered by Wilbur Wood, who led the National League with a 1.59 ERA in his first year with the Cards, all while winning 20 games. The Cards' lineup also featured 8 players batting .280 or higher.

There was plenty of headlines throughout the season, one of the biggest has to be 17 year-old rookie Rickey Henderson who stole 100 bases for the Atlanta Braves. This was definitely one of the few things that Atlanta got to cheer about since they lost 100 games, but they do have Dale Murphy & Dan Petry in the minors, so things could start looking up in the nearby future.

Jerry Koosman won the A.L. ERA title in his first year in the American League, posting a 1.84 mark while winning 20 games for the Athletics.

Here's a list of other players that left their mark on the season...
  • Bill Madlock (CHC) and Robin Yount (MIL) won the batting titles for their leagues. Madlock batted a Major League best .344 with 224 hits, his 2nd consecutive year over 200+ hits. The young shortstop Yount led the A.L. with a .325 mark, while posting a 126 OPS+ & 4.8 WAR, to go along with 49 doubles (1st /A.L.) & 32 stolen bases.
  • George Foster (CIN) and Jim Rice (BOS) each led their leagues with 34 home runs, while both also won their league's RBI titles; Foster had 146 RBI, while Rice had 140 RBI. Rice was the only MLB slugger who posted a .900 OPS & above (.913), while Foster led the N.L. in that category (.889).
  • Bake McBride (STL) edged Madlock in hits with 225, while Boston's Duane Kuiper led the A.L. with 213. The big kicker may be the fact that Kuiper hit 3 HR during the season, compared to his grand real-life total of 1. McBride also led the majors with 117 runs.
  • Cincinnati's Joe Morgan had a well-rounded successful season in which he batted .277 with 15 HR & 81 RBI, while scoring 107 runs & stealing 73 bases. Morgan led the N.L. in On-Base Percentage (.424) & Bases on Balls (142), while his 7.9 WAR ranked 3rd in the N.L. & Majors.
  • Morgan's teammate, Dave Conception led the majors in WAR with a 9.1 rating. Conception's fielding definitely plays a factor, but he carried a good bat by hitting .295 with 10 HR & 77 RBI. Conception also scored 94 runs while swiping 35 bases.
  • Frank Tanana of the Angels, led the A.L. in Wins (22), while he was 2nd in ERA (1.95) & strikeouts (221), while posting a 8.1 WAR (3rd among pitchers).
  • The Athletics' Vida Blue was a stud, leading the majors in complete games (20), innings (290), quality starts (30), while ranking 4th in the A.L. in strikeouts (194), while posting an 8.2 WAR.
  • The Reds' Don Gullet went 22-4 with a 2.45 ERA & 184 strikeouts, while posting a 7.4 WAR.
  • Al Hrabosky (STL) led the majors with 42 saves, while Sparky Lyle (NYY) led the A.L. with 32 saves.

*** Still to come, 1978 MLB Replay Update ***

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Keep on Plugging Away

Be generous like Roberto was in someone's time of need.
When the New Year began, my brother and I started going through cruise control in our 1978 MLB Replay (I'm American League, he's National). Ending this month, I have rolled 133 games of the A.L. Replay, going from game #212 (May 15th) on New Year's Day, while rolling Game #345 (June 4th) this morning. I have also rolled 40 home UAL games in a mail-in league that I am, along with a 1993 N.L. Championship Series replay that went all 7 games.

All in all, I rolled 180 games since the New Year, but in the last 3 weeks, I have rolled 18 games of my 1978 A.L. Replay & had to play my 10 UAL games, which I barely had the energy to play given the circumstances. Only 28 games or less in 21 days or so -- A huge difference considering the pace prior to the outbreak. 

The Coronavirus outbreak hit all of us hard on so many levels, effecting our way of living, and our own psyches. On my two off-nights, I can easily log at least 20 APBA games if I wanted to, but with all the distractions it's kind of hard to find the motivation.

I will say recently though, it seems that the APBA community has been very active. Many of the guys have started new projects in the last week, and are really having fun with them. I think we are plugging away at the games in ways to keep our mind off the depressing news. Their posts have inspired me to continue with our project the best that we could do, and it's this wonderful game that takes us back to places like 1978... The year of Ron Guidry and the days that relievers like Bob Stanley could go at least 2 innings, if not 3 or 4 innings at a time.

This is also a time to help those in needs in your communities. Becky and I, were blessed with help provided by our APBA community, friends & family, after she had a cancerous tumor removed from her right lung in November. 

We wanted to try to return the favor in some way, by helping someone in our local community, and we decided to help our upstairs neighbor who has two young teenage girls, and were already struggling before this pandemic broke out. We stopped by with some strawberry strudel bars, a card, and a gift card to Meijer grocery store for $50. It was the least we could do, the way that we looked at it, we were in the same boat once, and in many ways what effects them can effect us. I couldn't live with myself if I known someone was starving, when all they needed was someone to offer some help.

She didn't open the card at first when I was speaking with her, but the next morning she came by our apartment, and you could see the glow in her face, and was very thankful. She joked that since she was a diabetic, her girls had no problem rubbing it in, which mean't more Strawberry Streusel for them.

This is also a time to make sure your wives, husbands, children are absolutely okay. Just because they are not talking about the situation doesn't mean its not on their mind. I had to nudge the wife a little the other night when I noticed she was more quiet than usual, and she opened up about much more than I ever expected, she was telling me about all her worries while we were cuddled up on the bed together. She mentioned that the news and Facebook have both been overwhelming for her as of late, which I can completely understand. I now watch the news for about 15 minutes a day, to see if there is any updates, and I do that when she's not in the room. My wife has had a history with anxiety and depression issues, and I am glad that she communicated with me, instead of keeping it all inside. 

It's absolutely alright to be scared, it's absolutely alright to share your feelings.

It's good to keep those communication lines open, so please keep communicating with all your family members. Try to reconnect on things that you love to do, while keeping them busy, by not being saturated with the depressing news channels and limit your Facebook time as well.

In the last couple days alone, less news and less Facebook, has actually put me in a much better and happier place, while giving me a boost of motivation on doing my APBA projects, while catching up on some shows with the wife, while we also played some Mario Kart as well.

So whatever it that helps you get by, let's keep plugging away at our APBA projects together, while plugging away at making our 'new normal' lives as normal as they can be. We can't just lie down, just like our doctors, nurses, truckers, and cashiers, we need to keep plugging away at the things that we love and for the people that we love.

Many 66's to all of you, good health to your families & be safe! 

New post coming up on the 1978 Replay - Two-Month Report

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The New Normal

I am still working on a post from my own perspective here in Traverse City, but until then, I wanted to relay something I wrote on Facebook, here it goes...

I keep seeing a bunch of people on here acting like children, talking about the "little number" of confirmed cases. I am going to have to skip the building blocks, flash cards, and the mid-afternoon book-read snack time for you, and try to explain this to you in short, even though I am pretty sure I am talking to a wall, and you are going to find out the hard way.
First some statistics for you...
The stock market crash of 2020 began on Monday, March 9, with history's largest point plunge for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) up to that date.1 It was followed by two more record-setting point drops on March 12 and March 16. The stock market crash included the three worst point drops in U.S. history. The one on March 16th was the worst in 30+ years (1987).
From the morning of March 17th to March 18th, we saw a 34% increase in CONFIRMED cases in one day.
There is no vaccine at the moment for COVID-19
This is only the beginning, they are talking 18 months now, while talking waves after waves.
The analysts have been watching the other infected areas of the world, and from what I have read, that people can be asymptomatic for up to 2 weeks before showing any signs, and they figure for EVERY confirmed case, there is 8 people asymptomatic running around, in which than each of those 8 would infect another 8 each, etc etc etc...
So for all of you that are bitching about places being closed, we are trying to stop it from spreading further, we will see the cases keep quadrupling even with these preventive measures, and oh yeah...
We are playing from 6-to-8 weeks from behind, and hospitals all around the country are already overwhelmed and they have realized if this is going to be 18 months, that they will be running out of supplies much sooner.
We are completely not ready for this, and if we all do get out of this, you better bet your ass things are going to change. The American people, especially the middle-class and under, will make sure in the future that we are well taken-care of, and we will set ourselves up to not be kicked around no more. We are going to take back this country...
That's if we get out of this pickle, but I try to stay optimistic.
This is a time for communities to pull together like this country has done so before, much in the way we did during World War II -- We need to be there for our neighbors, coworkers, friends & families.
This is not a time to make light of the situation, sure myself and many other people have passed around memes and jokes, but as a way to defuse the stress inside of ourselves. I guarantee you, I have not taken this situation lightly.
We have to pull together, and to do that we have to follow the rules in place, even if you don't completely understand the reasons, you need to cooperate. We will have one huge mountain after to climb, we have to keep moving forward as best as we can, and we have to climb out of the situation together.
Eventually the ones that think this is a joke, will be left behind. As we move forward, and the situation gets incredibly real & serious (Hopefully it doesn't get to that point), but People as a group will deal with those individuals, in very swift results, we can't have people endangering the entire process.
Everything effects everything at this point, we are all in a vulnerable position and we have to keep praying that it will get better in the end. We have to at least try.
Even our out-spoken President seems to have changed his tone a bit, realizing that this is going to be a long, tough, and ugly process and that eventually many lives will be lost. The economy is already showing signs that this will be worst than post 9/11 and that we will be hurting for the next decade and longer.

We have to hope that from here-on-out that our government hits this head on, and hope that it won't take horribly long for a vaccine.
Keep yourself informed, make sure that you have enough food (especially non-perishables, meat, etc -- that doesn't mean 200 rolls of toilet paper!). AA-Batteries, enough meds, plenty of tylenol and ibuprofen -- all that! We don't know how long we might have to hunker down for, so be safe, and not sorry.
Protect your loved ones, this is not a time to drop your guard, be more observant of your surroundings even in places you may feel that you are usually safe.... all bets are off.
Follow the news enough to know what's going on, don't watch it 24/7 though! -- Take a break from Facebook as well, negative energy feeds negative energy and we need to try to carry on our regular lives in what is now the new normal.
I need to work hard on this as well, see opening paragraph again ("flash cards"), that was harsh, but I am human, and you are human, and we are still going to have our moments of imperfection, and we will still show our ugly side from time-to-time, but I believe we will see people being more empathetic towards one another. I have to do better, we all have to do better.
This is the new normal, we must accept this, if we are going to rise above this and succeed. If we all work hard on this, we can get ourselves back to a better place, and even a better place than it ever was before.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Texas Lonesome

The Texas Rangers have been a very frustrating team to roll for in my 1978 A.L. Replay. As most of my readers know by now, my brother Chris and I, have been replaying the 1978 MLB Season, while he is replaying the N.L. side of the season. You can follow us on the APBA Between the Lines (Delphi Forum) by the handle "Brothers in Dice."

We both have reached June, and have both had our share of surprises this season. The Seattle Mariners were playing above-par, but have recently came back down to earth, as they have lost 6 of their last 7 games & sit at 21-29.

The Rangers started off slow at 8-18 (compared to 14-12) on May 12th, but then they posted off a league-best (tied) 7-game winning streak, until losing their 2nd game of a doubleheader against Seattle on May 19th, they would lose the next day, but bounce back to win two in a row. It should be noted that the real-life Rangers did start off 3-10 (Apr 8th-24th), and the replay Rangers were 5-8 at the point, 2 games ahead of pace.

At the end of May 22nd, the team was 17-20, much better than 10 days ago at that point. They had the Minnesota Twins for 3 more games (on road), Seattle for 2 games at home & 4 more games at home against the Twins again. So everything was pointing in a positive direction, but then everything went wrong...

Texas would go on to lose 7 of their next 9 games, while the Twins own a 6-2 record against the Rangers this season.  

The May 30th game only emphasized the frustration that comes with rolling for the Rangers. After losing the first two games by 1 run each, the Ramgers were looking to rebound in the third game and appeared to be doing just that. After Rangers starter Fergie Jenkins gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, he recovered by allowing no earned runs (1 run on a Al Oliver) through the next 7 innings to advance to a Grade A-XZZ. The Rangers were leading 4-3 entering the top of the 9th. After the Twins' Rich Chiles grounded out to lead off the inning, the Twins went to their bench and called on Bombo Rivera to pinch-hit for Glenn Adams (who went 0-for-3), and Rivera would go to second-columns to record a double. Butch Wynegar followed by drawing a walk. With runners on 1st & 2nd, Rob Wilfong rolls a 15-11 for a RBI game-tying single & stolen base. Next batter after that, Hosken Powell rolls into second-columns and hits a two-run double, which would result in Jenkins exit. Paul Lindblad comes in to relief, gets Rod Carew to fly out for out number two, but would allow a RBI single to Roy Smalley (run was charged to Jenkins). Bases would eventually be loaded up for Chiles who kicked off the inning, but would fly out.

The Rangers surrendered 4 runs in the 9th, giving Jenkins a crooked-number in the boxscore on a game that he was pitching pretty good. This has been a bit of Jenkins story all season, a bad inning here-and-there, while being ate up by the home run ball (8 HR allowed). Jenkins is 2-4 with a 5.53 ERA as of May 30th.

The Rangers currently sit at 18-26 in last place, 10.5 games entering June 2nd. The real-life Rangers were 24-22, 6 games ahead of the replay mark. It's certainly not good, but considering that Jenkins should start pitching much better, and that the Rangers will acquire Johnny Grubb at some point in the summer, while the newly acquired Bobby Bonds is still finding his footing in his new threads, I still have faith that this team could become more competitive, and should get into the division hunt.

Grubb is currently hitting .331 with 6 HR & 32 RBI through 37 games for the 21-24 Cleveland Indians. Grubb ranks 4th in batting average & 4th in OPS (.969) in the American League, while his 32 RBI just missed the top 10.

Although the team is batting only .236, the team is batting nearly 30 points higher than it was during its first 26 games, with players like Jim Sundberg, Juan Beniquez & Richie Zisk heating up. Zisk is among the best hitters in the American League, batting .293 with 13 HR & 35 RBI this season.

Pitcher Jon Matlack has been getting betting run support and has improved his record to 4-6 with a 2.04 ERA & 46 K, to go along with his 5 complete games & 2 shutouts.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

APBA Game Play Preferences

Often it comes up on the APBA Facebook Group... Do you play the Master Game of APBA Baseball, or the Basic Game?

Everyone has their reasons for each one, some love strictly one and not the other. Some are happy with the Basic, and aren't willing to give the other a try, due to things like more dice rolls and time (which is understandable). Some have created different hybrid versions as well, merging the two.

My entire APBA life, I have played the Basic Game, and until the summer of 2016, I never played with Optional Fielding. Now like coffee, I can't even imagine not playing without Optional Fielding... it gives realistic value to any sort of replay, and really ups the importance of players like Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker -- The 1984 Tigers not playing up to par? Play with Optional Fielding and they do very well.

I thought about these posts and discussions, and realized that in my entire time posting that I never really did a blog piece on what my preferences are, and why I prefer certain things. For those that may have been interested or curious in what I like, well here you go...

Basic or Master?

Like I mentioned above, I play Basic with Optional Fielding, while I have now been rolling my personal APBA projects with the APBA Baseball Error Card and Unusual Play Card (from the APBA Journal) since going to the Glass City APBA Baseball Tournament (ran by my friend Ron Emch).

I started playing Optional Fielding back in the summer of 2016, when my friend James Welch showed me quickly during that summer's Chicagoland Tournament how easy and showed me a quick way how to go about using it.

I currently play in the UAL (Ultimate APBA League), which is a cool mail-in league, although I wish they reconsider renaming the league to something else. In that league, we use the Optional Fielding, but I don't use the Error & Unusual Play Card for that league since it is not part of the league's rules. I always follow the league or tournament rules, even if its not exactly how I might play solitaire.

For my 1978 Replay with my brother Chris Baier, we are using actual game starting pitchers and position players. He is using a hybrid system, mostly basic for the National League side, while I am playing Basic with Optional Fielding, while using the Error & Unusual Play Card. You can follow us on the Delphi - APBA Between the Lines forum, under the label "Brothers in Dice." I first came up with "Brothers in Arms" like the Dire Straits song, and he said let's go with dice, which I agree sounds better and makes more sense.

Solitaire Tournament Play or Playing Teams from Different Eras

When I roll projects such as my Amazing April Tournament for example, the home team of that game plays under the rules that their team played under back during that time. For example, if the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers played the 2007 Boston Red Sox at Fenway, both teams are playing under the DH rule. If the 2013 Detroit Tigers are playing the 1968 Detroit Tigers, both teams' pitchers will hit. If those 2013 Tigers though played the 1984 Detroit Tigers at those 84' Tigers' home, back to the DH, and so forth.

I have seen people do their solitaire tournaments due one or the other, strictly DH or strictly pitchers hitting, but I don't recall seeing any doing what I prefer or at least in a real face-to-face tournament. If I was hosting my own face-to-face tournament, I feel the home team gets to play by its era's rules, plus the tournament would definitely have optional fielding and the Error Distribution Card & Unusual Play Cards.

Different Era Cards, for some projects, if a old era APBA 'A' pitching card (pre-K ratings) was to have the result '9' with Bases Empty, I record it as a strikeout instead of the new boards which it is now a ground out.

Another note on my Amazing April Tournaments, I usually go with the first 2 starters alternating from round to round. I have been also working on a tournament, The Tournament of Champions where at least the first 3 starters from each rotation gets work, and the rounds are broken down in series & not single-games.

Rolling Preference 

I used to hand roll, but since I use my arms a lot for my job, and the fact that I am getting older, my elbows started hurting with all the repeated motions. My wife bought me this beautiful dice tower featured in a post named "Rolling into the Holidays", and I now use that, plus dice don't go everywhere.

TOP SECRET -- Upcoming Future Project

Not to be unveiled yet, because this bad boy is going to be my baby... so much to the point, that I believe that this will be my APBA imprint in the community or what I will be known for, when its all said and done.

So with that in mind, I will not reveal the overall concept, although I did share it with my brother and one APBA friend.... shhhhhhh!!!! Which reminds me, you both need to stop by and sign some papers making sure that your lips remain sealed.

It doesn't mean that I won't let you know, what I plan to use for this project...
  • The PAAL (Pottstown Area APBA League) Playing Boards.
  • Optional Fielding.
  • Designated Hitter Rule in effect for both leagues.
  • Error Distribution Card & Unusual Play Card.
  • Starter Fatigue Adjustment.
  • Will be using a stolen base attempt system, which will involve pitchers' move to first, catcher's throwing arm & the stolen base ratings grade for players attempting to steal bases.
  • Pitchers' HR allowance ratings (which are reflected on PAAL Boards).
  • The Pitchers' Number Grades (not letters) for realistic results.
  • APBA Brawl Chart
So the project will basically be using the PAAL Boards, which with the stolen base system and pitchers' numeral grades, will be much of a hybrid-game experience for this project. I am still on fence for ballpark effects, which overall is because I don't quite fully understand them, and may just be better off leaving that out.

I will say this, the PAAL Boards are necessary for this project, because there will be more talent among the rosters than there normally would be. The PAAL Boards is for a league that has 16 teams I believe. My league will have 28 teams.... and no it is not a BATS (Baseball All-Time Stars) project!

Anyways, these are some of my preferences, I am sure I left something out. I hope you enjoyed this article.

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