Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer Days a Rolling By


Plenty of APBA Projects and news coming to you via the Boys of Summer Blog.

My 1982 Detroit Tigers (NXPL) have clinched the American League Pennant, the team is on the road for their last series in Chicago against the Chicago White Sox.  The NXPL is a twenty-team league with no expansion, each league (American & National) have 10 teams each, and there is no designated hitter as well.

I had a blog piece that was published August 7th (with Bill Madlock's picture) about my 1982 Tigers' season success, but it was accidentally deleted when I was deleting some blog drafts on my site (The article was accidentally clicked on... grrr!).

My Detroit Tigers will be facing the St. Louis Cardinals, who made sure that the Montreal Expos were not going to their third-straight World Series. It's almost fitting that the Tigers & Cardinals would be facing each other, with their history against each other in the series (1934, 1968, 2006) -- plus the Cardinals did play in the actual World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982; The rosters may have some different faces, but there are also players on these rosters that actually played for their respective ball clubs.

The 'WHAT IF' World Series - Updates

More updates to come on my 2001 'WHAT IF' World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics -- plus more to come on the 1975 'WHAT IF' World Series of the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, which is more of a tweak with the actual teams playing against each other, the tweak was a healthy Jim Rice for Boston & the American League being able to use the Designated Hitter in the World Series.

Where we are at on both:

The 2001 World Series has the Oakland Athletics leading the series, 3-2, after Eric Chavez's walk-off home run to deep center off of reliever Bret Prinz; Oakland's Game 5 win was the first game that either team won at home in the series. Curt Schilling is to pitch Game 6 for the D-Backs, facing Mark Mulder.

The 1975 World Series has Boston up 1-0 in the series, after the Red Sox rallied back, tied the game with Cecil Cooper's two-run HR, in which he would come up the hero again, innings later in the bottom-of-the-11th with a walk-off single.

Check out my previous 'WHAT IF' World Series below (by clicking on it)...

Same Faces, New Places (BoS Updates)

Plenty of deals have gone down during the 2016 BoS Season for the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League.

The Traverse City Panthers have made two deals that have them throwing up a white flag for 2016, a season after being a huge favorite & being knocked out early in playoffs, have been reeling since. The team has noted they are not rebuilding, but are currently reshuffling the deck for the future; The Panthers traded star third baseman Josh Donaldson with Norichika Aoki & a 6th Round Draft Pick to the Fairgrove Tigers in exchange for two younger stars in third baseman Nick Castellanos, starting pitcher Yordana Ventura & Fairgrove's 1st Round Draft Pick.

The Panthers weren't done there, they also traded third baseman Matt Carpenter (who was DH/2B for the Panthers) to the San Diego Heroes in exchange for 3B/IF- Brandon Drury, starting pitcher Daniel Norris, Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig (who returns to the team that originally drafted him), along with a 3rd Round Draft Pick.

Donaldson will be now bashing away in a Tigers' uniform.

It was tough for Traverse City to break up the combination of Donaldson & Carpenter, to go along with Miguel Cabrera, Hunter Pence & Giancarlo Stanton; The other three (Cabrera, Pence & Stanton) have had health issues the past two seasons, and Panthers had to trade some stars to bring in more depth. The Panthers overall feel good about their deals, bringing in Castellanos (Age 24) and the troubled Ventura (Age 25), brings in much-needed youth with upside potential; Ventura has started rough for the Kansas City Royals in 2016, and got demoted -- since coming back from his demotion, he has posted a 2.03 ERA in five starts. Castellanos is having the best year of his young career, but has recently suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, and most likely will be out for the next four weeks.

It's amazing to think that Yasiel Puig is only 25, and how far he has fallen from his MLB debut in 2013; The Traverse City Panthers drafted Puig as the league's #1 overall pick in March 2014, he helped the Panthers get within a game of the World Series in his rookie year. The next off-season he was involved in a blockbuster deal, being sent to Chicago in exchange for Miguel Cabrera (both teams had other stars in the packaged deal); Mid-season 2015, Chicago would trade him to San Diego, a deal involving Andrew McCutchen. Puig is now back in T.C., San Diego had no room for him, and T.C. knows he could be the wild card in this deal, acquiring him could go either way... there is always that potential for him to turn back around that corner though.

Now moving on...
Greinke: Gun for hire.

The Fairgrove Tigers not only acquired Donaldson for their attempts at another World Championship, they also acquired Zack Greinke with Dan Haren from the South Side Spartans, in exchange for Rick Porcello and Jake Odorizzi. GM/Manager Robert Mosher & his Tigers are making a serious push for another World Title, they won a title during the 2014 BoS Season.

Interesting fact about Greinke, it's his 3rd team this season, he becomes the second player to play for three different ballclubs in league history... the first was Jose Bautista.

Fairgrove has won 6 of their last 10 games, by tying the division, as Chicago has struggled of late, losing 7 of their last 10 games in the process; Chicago made plenty of huge moves in off-season that made the 2015 American League Champions the early season favorite.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bad, Bad, Baltimore

Bad.. Bad... Baltimore is so bad, right now! Well.. in my 2K9 season at least...

In my APBA 2K9 Project, I have taken the best players of each of the 30 franchises from the years 2009-2011 -- Of course, the more successful those teams are, like the Texas Rangers (2 World Series appearances), the better.... which means the least successful... you get the idea.

The Baltimore Orioles by 2011, have yet to break out of their long depression... they would do so by winning 93 games in 2012, in which they have since been far more competitive. The unfortunate thing for my APBA 2K9 Project, their best team from 2009-2011, was their 2011 ball club that only won 69 games (2009 - 64 wins, 2010 - 66 wins).

They have everything going against them for the most part, their lineup & defense is probably their strongest elements, and the lineup for most part does not match up against most teams in the American League; Another problem with their lineup is that they have no .300 hitters, and in a league that are taking the best of the best from each franchise, which means stronger pitching rotations, those .300 batters will be missed.

The team also has no bench, when Felix Pie is your best option off the bench, you know you are in trouble.

Their rotation is easily the weakest in the entire MLB in this project. I don't think any other team sports a Grade D starting pitcher in their rotation, nor do I think any rotation has 4 pitchers with a Grade C or less, as well.

The team actually played above-and-beyond in two games against a tough Minnesota Twins team, only for their bullpen to blow the game, twice! One of those games, the Orioles led 6-0 entering the 8th Inning!

The Orioles are currently batting .180, while their pitching has a 9.00 ERA... Ouch! It gets worse, they have been outscored already by 26 runs... All this in 4 games! Their latest loss was being shutout by Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson, in which the O's could only manage 2 hits.

Their center-fielder Adam Jones has been lousy, 2-for-17 with a single RBI, while striking out over half-the-time with 9 K's at the plate. Their best hitter at this point has been their #9 hitter, Melvin Mora (5-for-13, .385 BA).. only 3 other hitters have 4 hits & only two of those hitters are batting over .250 right now.

The Orioles have gone belly up, it's going to be really interesting to see how bad they will be as the season goes on, after watching them give up some possible wins early on, I have a feeling they may have a difficult time reaching 40 wins by season's end.

Friday, August 19, 2016

APBA 2K9 Action

Some interesting numbers from the young APBA 2K9 Baseball Season. The APBA 2K9 Project is the best players for each franchise from 2009, 2010 & 2011, using the 2016 MLB Schedule & the Houston Astros are in the American League West.

Morneau & Mauer would love to play Baltimore everyday.

The M&M boys (Joe Mauer & Justin Morneau) and the Minnesota Twins for that matter, love playing the Baltimore Orioles; Mauer is batting .643 (9-for-14) and Morneau is batting .545 (6-for-11) -- Morneau has 3 HR & 9 RBI in 3 games! To make matters worse, Baltimore had a chance in two of those games to pull off the win, and blown both games... Game 3, the Birds led 6-1 through 6 innings, then came the 7th Inning and the bullpen self-destructed allowing 8 runs in the last 3 innings! Game 2, the Orioles had a 3-2 lead, which closer Jim Johnson blown.

The Twins lead the A.L. Central, at 3-0 with a +12 scoring differential, while batting .295 as a team.

The rest of the A.L. Central have been winning as well, the Chicago White Sox had a chance to become MLB's first 4-0 team, but their closer Bobby Jenks blown the save against Oakland & their record stands at 3-1 (+9 scoring)... the Cleveland Indians took a surprising 2 games from the Boston Red Sox & are in third at 2-0. The Detroit Tigers, in typical Tigers fashion, would be 3-0, if their bullpen didn't blow the last two games against the Florida Marlins.

The New York Yankees are loaded on offense, their starting pitching will be their achilles' heel.. they currently lead the A.L. East. The Toronto Blue Jays tore apart the Tampa Bay Rays in their first 2 match-ups, but ended up with a 2-2 series split (Toronto still outscored them by 7 runs in the series); Aaron Hill & Lyle Overbay each lead Toronto with 2 home runs each. Boston & Baltimore remain winless.

The Texas Rangers will likely be an American League favorite (2 World Series appearances in this 3-year period), Nelson Cruz currently has 3 HR & 5 RBI... The team has yet to get rolling on offense, hitting only .215 collectively at the moment, while their starting pitchers have been great, allowing only 4 earned runs in 21 innings -- being a huge part in their 2-1 record.

Now to the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies have been great as expected, the team has it all -- the lineup, rotation & bullpen... It's easy to see why they are the preseason N.L. favorites, standing at 3-0, despite the fact that they didn't play great against Cincinnati; Ryan Howard leads the team with 2 HR & 6 RBI already... Chase Utley in a bizarre game struck out 5 times!

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently lead the N.L. Central at 2-0, with two big victories over the St. Louis Cardinals -- remember this is before the Pirates returned to their winning ways, you can see a little of the potential to come in this team, but their current success may eventually be short-lived.

The N.L. Central should be a fun division to watch with no clear dominant team, with the edge going out to St.Louis for their two Grade A starting pitchers in a rotation in Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter -- There is only one other team in the entire league that has two A starters and that is the Philadelphia Phillies (Roy Halladay & Cliff Lee). The Cincinnati Reds have plenty of power in their lineup & will be an exciting bunch, but their starting pitching (outside of Johnny Cueto) is suspect at best.

Ian Kennedy & their rotation have been lights out, early on.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are a surprising 3-1.. but are they legit? Blowing their last game, plus their scoring differential at a leveled zero, there is some visible cracks, like 16 combined hits in their 4 games, while their lineup has struck out 42 times already; Their starting pitching has been a huge surprise in their first four games -- 2 ER's allowed in 30.2 innings! Those starters' names? Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter & Joe Saunders... I know, right?!

The N.L. West will likely see the San Diego Padres & Colorado Rockies struggle, while the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers (with Manny Ramirez, by the way) and possibly Arizona will be fighting for the division.

This format by the way will feature two wild cards per league, like in Major League Baseball.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BoS Season Update: Burnett's No-No & A.L. Playoff Race

A.J. Burnett tips his hat off to the crowd.

A few things from the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League [Computer]...

The league's 10th No-Hitter has taken place, this time it was by the Louisville Sluggers' A.J. Burnett, against the San Diego Heroes. This is the second time the Heroes were no-hit this season, the previous game was on May 16th against the Fairgrove Tigers' Marco Estrada.

The Heroes become the 3rd team in league history be no-hit in league history & the 2nd team to ever be no-hit in the same season (South Shore Fighting Imps were no-hit twice, last year in 2015).

A.J. Burnett did it in typical Burnett fashion with 9 K's, yet 5 walks.

Meanwhile, on a separate note, the American League playoff race got more tight, as the Chicago Nine lost 5 straight games to the South Side Spartans -- in which the Fairgrove Tigers only trail in the A.L. West by a single game...

In the A.L. East, things got more complicated as 3 teams are only separated by three games... Both the Spartans and Corktown Tamales have winning streaks going. In the very end, only 3 of these 5 contending teams will move onto the playoffs in the American League, who will they be? 

We'll have to see how it all plays out.

Monday, August 15, 2016

2001 'WHAT IF' World Series - Arizona at Oakland (Game 5)

Not to be forgotten by the recent 1975 World Series 'WHAT IF' Series... We still have another series to report... The 2001 'WHAT IF' World Series, if Oakland got past the Yankees (Minus miraculous Derek Jeter play) to face Arizona.

Oakland won the first two games of the series on the road, in which Arizona turned around and done the same deal to Oakland in Games 3 & 4, by winning on the road -- tying up the series, 2-2.

Oakland Colliseum may not be taking any beauty pageant awards home soon, but it is home-field advantage none the less & they can try and break this visitors-winning mode, by winning the pivotal Game 5.

GAME 5 (at Oakland)

Arizona sends out Brian Anderson, saving Curt Schilling for Game 6 & Randy Johnson for Game 7 (if necessary) -- Miguel Batista pitched recently in Game 3 & Randy pitched Game 4. The only problem is Anderson is a APBA Grade D-RZ & will have his work cut out for him; While Arizona is basically a 1-2 punch in "Schill" & the "Big Unit" -- Oakland supports a full Grade B rotation, and sends out Cory Lidle (Grade B-YZ).

The game starts off with Craig Counsell hitting a fly to center, but Johnny Damon suddenly misjudges the fly, and the ball drops out of his glove... Counsell is aboard first, on the Damon error. Jay Bell would advance the runner to second on a ground out, while big Luis Gonzalez, with 4 homer runs already in the World Series, strikes out for out number two. Reggie Sanders follows through with an RBI single to right; Erubiel Durazo flies to left for third out. D-Backs strike first with 1-0 lead.

Oakland doesn't stay silent for long, as they answer with a Miguel Tejada game-tying, one-out solo homer in the bottom of the 1st. Jason Giambi draws a walk, followed by a Eric Chavez double, to give Oakland runners on 2nd & 3rd -- setting up a RBI single in which Jason is knocked in by his brother Jeremy Giambi (DH), to give Oakland a 2-1 lead.

Damian Miller for Arizona.
Oakland would add to their lead in the 2nd Inning with RBI singles by both Jason Giambi & Eric Chavez -- making it a early, 4-1 lead for the Athletics.

Top of the 4th -- Cory Lidle would get himself into some trouble... Erubiel Durazo draws a one-out walk, followed by a Mark Grace single. Matt Williams, batting 7th, hits a RBI single to right to score in Durazo; Steve Finley flies to right for second out. Damian Miller entered the game, batting ninth, and was only hitting .133 in the series (2-for-15), singled earlier in the 2nd Inning & would smack a two-run double into the right-center gap, tying the game at 4-4. Craig Counsell would follow play with a single to right, but Miller would force his way to home, to get thrown out by Jermaine Dye's throw for final out of the inning.

The game would remain scoreless for the next 4 full innings. the Diamonbacks have successfully been rolling out relievers with successful results after Brian Anderson's short 2 innings of work (7 hits, 4 ER's allowed) --  in Greg Swindell (3.1 innings), Mike Morgan (1.1 innings) & Troy Brohawn (.1 Innings).

Top of the 9th, Mark Grace would lead off by reaching second on a throwing error by Oakland reliever Mike Magnante, but the next three batters Matt Williams, Steve Finley & Damian Miller would fail to get him home.

Bottom of the 9th, Arizona rookie reliever Bret Prinz on the mound, gets the lead-off man Miguel Tejada to ground out to short to start the inning. The dangerous Jason Giambi would step to the plate, after reaching base all four times tonight (two walks, two singles & an RBI); Giambi hits a double. Eric Chavez, hitting cleanup & 2-for-4 with a double & RBI steps into the box... He entered the game, 3-for-16... Prinz hangs one, and Chavez sends this one to deep center -- GONE!! A Walk-off homer run for "Chavvy"!

Oakland wins a close game, despite having twice as many hits as Arizona (14 to 7), they left many men on base & hit into a few double plays in the process... but they battled through and won the pivotal Game 5; Chavez doubled his series hits totals to a grand total of 6 now, lifting that batting average from .188 to .286 -- he also has 2 HR & 6 RBI now as well.

Chavez watches the ball sail over the center field wall.
This series now goes back to Arizona for Game 6 with the Oakland Athletics leading this 'WHAT IF' 2001 World Series, 3 games-to-2... Arizona will call on Curt Schilling for Game 6 & hope he can make the relay to Randy Johnson for a possible Game 7; Oakland will send Mark Mulder to the mound.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The WHAT IF World Series (1975) - Red Sox vs Reds (A Few Tweaks)

Starting a "WHAT IF" World Series with my custom-made 1975 Boston Red Sox & a healthy Jim Rice for the series -- plus the DH rule is in effect (which back in 1975, despite the fact that the American League had DH's -- both teams had pitchers bat in the Fall Classic).

GAME 1 (at Fenway Park)

Don Gullet (CIN) and Luis Tiant (BOS) on the mound & the game started the same way as the actual Game 1, with 6 scoreless innings. Heading into the 7th, Tiant only allowed one hit, while Gullet only allowed two hits.
Bench Mark: Bench points the way for his teammates.

This time, the scoring was reversed with Cincinnati having a big 7th Inning with 4 runs (in real-life, Boston scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 7th). Johnny Bench kicked things off with a solo home run to right, followed by a Tony Perez double... George Foster would smack in Perez, as Cincinnati takes a 2-0 lead. Dan Driessen would hit a single to right-center, then steal second, Dave Conception would reach first on a Rick Burleson error, bases loaded. Boston would go to the pen & call on Jim Burton to face only the next batter Griffey.

Boston would finally record two outs, on back-to-back plays with Ken Griffey flying out to left, and (with Roger Moret now on the mound) Cesar Geronimo striking out. The Reds were not done though, as Pete Rose would score in two runners on a single... Joe Morgan would follow by drawing bases on balls... all coming back to the man who led of the inning, in Mr. Bench -- with bases loaded & a chance to really break this game open -- against Boston's third reliever of the inning in Jim Willoughby... Bench would strike out.

The damage was done, and the Reds are up, 4-0 & have knocked Luis Tiant out of the game. Tiant who was pitching a beauty, ended up with a messy box score line of 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 runs, 2 K's & 2 walks.

Lynn, was simply the man in 1975.
Willoughby would keep the Reds off the board, pitching a scoreless 8th Inning. The bottom of the 8th, Carl Yastrzemski would draw a walk, while Don Gullet would follow that, by plunking Carlton Fisk with a pitch, runners on 1st & 2nd... Fred Lynn, who would go on to win both the American League Rookie-of-the-Year Award & American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1975 -- hits a two-run double, to cut the lead in half; Sparky Anderson seen enough, calls on Rawly Eastwick from the Reds' bullpen... striking out Jim Rice & getting Dwight Evans to fly to left for the final outs of the 8th Inning.

Boston down 4-2, they call on Dick Drago to take the mound, to face Griffey, Geronimo & Rose. Griffey would do nothing but fly to right... Cesar Geronimo would single to right, but the lead runner would have to remain at first, as Pete Rose hit into a fielder's choice (getting Geronimo out at second)... Joe Morgan draws his second walk of the game, setting the tables with runners on 1st & 2nd for Johnny Bench... Bench would not be able to add some insurance runs for Cincy though.

Sparky Anderson selects Will McEnaney to close the game out for the Reds. Boston goes to the bench and calls on Juan Beniquez to pinch-hit for Rico Petrocelli, he is likely to take over at third if Boston can tie this up & move on to extras; Beniquez hits a lead-off single off of McEnaney. The Red Sox' wheels are still turning, and Boston skipper Darrell Johnson calls on Bernie Carbo to step up to bat in place of Rick Burleson, who is 0-for-3... Carbo would ground out, but advances Beniquez to second. One out, with a runner on second, it's back to the top of the Boston batting order with Cecil Cooper at the plate, 1-for-his previous 4 at-bats... he likes his pitch, 66-1... Gone! The game is all knotted up at 2-2; Denny Doyle and Carl Yastrzemski would be retired to finish the inning.

This game goes to extras...
Cooper, before his Brewer days.

Dick Drago after a successful, scoreless 9th Inning, would pitch the top of the 10th, and would only allow a two-out single to George Foster... Cincinnati keeps Will McEnaney in the ballgame, and he would pitch a scoreless bottom-of-the-10th -- only allowing a two-out double to Jim Rice, but successfully getting Dwight Evans to ground out to short for the third out.

I want to take this brief moment to let my readers know that I have been playing APBA lately with Optional Fielding, all thanks to James Welch. I have had the privilege of meeting Welch at the Chicago Fantasy World Series, we may have talked briefly at the my first Chicago tourney experience, this time I really got to know him more, since he was in my division at the recent Chicago tournament. We played only once against each other, since we were both eliminated & we felt playing the last two would be senseless we can socialize with other people... In that game, he further explained how Optional Fielding works, now I have been playing with that all the time & it does make a nice difference -- he called it "fine-tuning", which is the best way of putting it. 

Before we move on, here is an example of Optional Fielding... Recently in my APBA 2K9 Project (Best of the players from 2009-2011 for each of the 30 franchises), a team playing against the Cincinnati Reds.... The batter rolled a play result of #15, I believe the Cincinnati Reds were a fielding 2, but with play results of 15's, you go to that position player which is LF... Jonny Gomes, who is only a (1), is a fielding 3 in this case, and the result was 1st & 2nd on a error -- If I was playing in regular, straight-up basic mode, against a team fielding two it would have been a single, against a team fielding 1, that would have Fly-out... Now if there was a fielder in left, with 3 fielding points, in Optional Fielding it would have been a fly-out. I have seen this Optional Fielding work well, with third baseman, makes a whole difference if you have a 3B with 5 or 6 points, making them a fielding one, getting that double-play, where a fielding 2 third baseman would get the force instead. 

Okay, after this brief intermission, let's get back to the ballgame, shall we? Dick Drago still in the game for Boston would allow back-to-back lead-off walks to Ken Griffey & Cesar Geronimo, but Pete Rose would hit into a double-play... Joe Morgan, with a runner on third, would strike out.

I have specific rules that I use when I play, a reliever can go 3 innings or more, but once he hits 3 innings, he will have to sit the next game out, each additional inning, would be one more game. Dick Drago will not be able to pitch in Game 2, which could be really good for Cincy with Boston not having much of a bullpen anyways.

Bottom of the 11th, with Will McEnaney still on the mound for the Reds... Juan Beniquez would get his second hit off the bench... Doug Griffin (in for Burleson) puts down a sacrifice bunt, out at first, but successfully moves Beniquez over to second base, leading up to Cecil Cooper. Cooper tied the game earlier in the bottom of the 9th off of McEnaney, with a two-run homer. McEnaney delivers, it's a hit to the right-center gap, Beniquez will come around & score the winning run -- The board result was a double, but likely Beniquez (Fast) would score winning run before Cooper makes it to second -- so walk-off single by Cooper! Red Sox win!

Player of the Game: Cecil Cooper.
The Red Sox came back from a 4-0 deficit, scoring their first run in the 8th inning. Cecil Cooper ends the game, 3-for-6, with a HR & 3 RBI.. Will McEnaney records the loss, with 2.1 innings in relief... while Dick Drago goes 3 scoreless innings in relief, to notch the victory.

Game 2 will see the Reds' Jack Billingham face Boston's Bill "The Spaceman" Lee.

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