Friday, December 30, 2016

The Latest

The latest on all my projects in a brief report before heading into the New Year.

Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League

The Fairgrove Tigers (100-62) swept the 'Cinderella' Holland Hitchhikers (83-79) in the World Series. It was Manager/Owner Robert Mosher's 2nd World Title in the league's four-year existence, becoming the first owner to win it twice, and the first owner to sweep a World Series opponent.

It was a wild ride for Steve Ruder & the Hitchhikers, who snuck in the door during the last day of the season, due to a horrendous division-leading collapse by the Urbana Locomotives.

Super Bum strikes again: Bumgarner addes to BoS Legacy.

For the Tigers, Madison Bumgarner continued his BoS Playoff heroics, by adding a 8 inning performance that only allowed 5 hits & 2 runs, plus 5 K's. Meanwhile on offense, Salvador Perez and Paul Goldschmidt each hit 3 home runs in the short 4-game series, with Chris Davis adding 2 HR as well.

You can catch the lead-up to the World Series in the link below. The BoS Award Ballots have been trickling in, and we will have those results soon.

APBA 2K9 Project

It's been an interesting & fun project so far, with no projected timeline on when this will finish. I have started this project just prior to the 2016 Chicago Fantasy World Series in mid-July, and have played 89 games to this point. I am on April 11th of the 2016 MLB Schedule, as the project is based off the best player cards from the 2009, 2010 & 2011 APBA Baseball sets, and that player playing for the team he played for the most during that three-year period. 

So far a few surprises have emerged: The Arizona Diamondbacks are 6-1 (in first), Pittsburgh Pirates are tied in first for the N.L. Central with the Milwaukee Brewers at 4-2... while perennial winners like the Boston Red Sox (0-5) and St. Louis Cardinals (1-4) have started off sluggish. 

The New York Yankees (2009 World Champions), Philadelphia Phillies (2009 N.L. Champions) & the Texas Rangers (2010 & 2011 A.L. Champions) are three of the biggest pre-season favorites. 

Also, the M&M boys in Minnesota have been raising a ruckus, as Justin Morneau leads all baseball with 6 HR & 17 RBI in just 7 games.

1983 NXPL Season

This is my third season in the Non-Expansion Professional League as Manager/Owner of the Detroit Tigers. We are coming off a successful season as the defending 1982 American League Champions, in which we lost a close seven-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. I feel we added some amazing pieces to give our team a better chance to repeat as League Champions & hopefully one step closer in winning a world championship.

We are currently 10-10, two games out in a very tough & balanced American League. We seem to be playing better of late, but still have a lot of work to do. The Chicago White Sox currently lead the A.L with a 12-8 record, while the Chicago Cubs lead the N.L. with the same 12-8 record. My Tigers play those White Sox on the road, and then we return home to play the Minnesota Twins.

Ben Oglivie and Jason Thompson, two of my big sluggers last season, are currently struggling for me -- while my starting pitchers still seem to be my bread & butter.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Holiday Hump

Wanted to give a quick shout out to my readers & friends of the Boys of Summer & APBA Baseball universe. I hope all your holiday travels have been safe this holiday season, and wanted everyone know that once the new year begins, the Boys of Summer will have plenty coming your way... I just didn't realize it's been over two weeks ago since my last post already, so please bare with me as we get past this holiday hump.

This holiday season had the wife & I busy as well as I am sure was the same case for most of you -- The holiday season can be a hectic one for a lot of us, the main goal this holiday season is that every one had a wonderful holiday season, as they spent it with family and friends... that is what counts!

I thank the lord for this blessed life & I do not take any of it for granted, I plan to have better new year resolutions that will focus more on my faith, even if that means scaling back on Baseball, because without God this is all not possible.

By the way, I am a huge Batman fan, and thought it would be cool to have a picture of Batman, Robin & Santa together.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

BoS Season Nearing End

The acquisition of Donaldson helped give Fairgrove a push in the right direction.
It's been some time since I have done a post on the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League.... Too long in fact. Like recent seasons, the regular season came down to the last series.


We would witness the Urbana Locomotives (managed by APBA Blog's Thomas Nelshoppen) go from 74-59 (8.5 games up on 2nd place Louisville) to losing their division with a 81-81 record, tied with the Louisville Sluggers -- all while the Holland Hitchhikers (Steve Ruder) leap frogs both teams, by winning the N.L. East with a 83-79 record.

Holland becomes the 4th different franchise to win this division in its 4 years of existence. The only team in this division that could win at home this season, in this division, was the Louisville franchise (47-34 at home), the other 3 teams all went 37-44 each.

By the way, Holland won entered the playoffs on a 6-game winning streak, while Urbana lost their last 9 games.

My Traverse City Panthers would finish in last with a 78-84 record, only 5 games out of first, despite trading away both Josh Donaldson & Matt Carpenter at the trade deadline. I don't regret the moves because both trades are to better the franchise's future.

The N.L. West, meanwhile was between two sturdy, playoff-contenders in the San Diego Heroes & the 3-Time National League Champion - Portland Microbrewers. San Diego would become the first N.L. West Division Champs in division history, not known as Portland, winning the division by 4 games over the Brew Crew with a 97-65 record. Portland still qualified for the N.L. Wild Card spot.

The San Diego Heroes are managed by my youngest brother, Christopher Baier. Chris Baier, if you all remember is my same brother that went to the Championship Game (using the Basic APBA Cards) for the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (GMABT), in it's 1st tournament.

Over in the American League, we had a 5-team race for 3 playoff spots. The last couple years, it's been like this in the American League, with some unfortunate teams not making the cut. The Fairgrove Tigers (Robert Mosher) were for the most part, the only safe bet to be heading for the playoffs, in fact the Tigers would be the only team to win 100 games this season, and the first team to do that in the BoS in two seasons (there was no 100 game winners or losers in Season 3 - 2015). Mosher gave his Tigers that extra push, when he acquired Josh Donaldson from Traverse City (with OF-Norichika Aoki) in exchange for 3B-Nick Castellanos, SP-Yordana Ventura & their 2017 1st Round Draft Pick -- while also landing pitchers Zack Greinke & Dan Haren from the South Side Spartans in exchange for pitchers Rick Porcello & Jake Odorizzi.

The Chicago Nine after a rough first month, got things in order & threatened to take the division from Fairgrove, but would finish second with 93 wins; Chicago would win the A.L. Wild Card spot over the A.L. East's Corktown Tamales (89-73) & South Side Spartans (85-77). The Micatin Destroyers, formerly known as the South Shore Fighting Imps would win their 3rd A.L. East Division Title (all under manager Bill Gillam), winning their first division title since 2014, after a down year (68-94) in 2015.

The bad finish in 2015 that led to the worst record in the BoS for the Imps, set them up for the future, led by the #1 overall pick of third baseman Kris Bryant. The Imps changed their name due to the similarity of their South Shore title to the Spartans' South Side name title, plus Gillam wanted to use a team name that he has used before in past APBA Baseball projects in the Micatin Destroyers.



The Holland Hitchhikers' wild ride kept rolling into the playoffs, led by Rougned Odor's .571 batting average in 15 plate appearances (.600 OBP / 1.071 SLG /1.671 OPS), plus 5 ribbies -- while Holland cut off the Portland Microbrewers' hitting supply (.239 Team BA) as Portland came up empty in a 3-1 series loss. Portland's only win came on the road in Game 2, a 7-5, 11th Inning victory.

Meanwhile, in the American League...

Stroman was all pumped up for Chicago in the ALDS round.
The Chicago Nine would edge the Micatin Destroyers on paper in a 3-2 series victory, but the box scores indicate that Micatin's bat went silent, batting .203, while striking out 50 times & stranding 31 base runners in the process. Micatin's pitching was actually the best among the LDS competitors, leading the bunch with a 3.88 ERA. The Nines' Marcus Stroman was brilliant, winning 2 LDS games with a 2.65 ERA with 17 K's in 17 innings (1 CG) -- while the offense was led by the likes of Dee Gordon, David Ortiz & Nolan Arenado.
Man on Fire: A historic series for J.D. Martinez.

The Fairgrove Tigers (A.L.) and the San Diego Heroes (N.L.) earned first-round byes, and now play the winners of the LDS playoffs.


First off, the American League Championship Series...

Not sure if it was the time off that effected the San Diego Heroes or it was the fact that Lance Lynn (of Holland) owned them in his two outings; Lynn went 1-0, with 11 K's & a 0.66 ERA -- he did allow 9 walks though, but that all leveled out as he only allowed 6 hits, which combined resulted in a sturdy 1.098 WHIP (13.2 Innings).

It also didn't help San Diego's matters that Holland had the three hottest bats in either LCS in J.D. Martinez (.435 BA), Starling Marte (.421 BA) & Bryce Harper (.409 BA). Martinez led the entire bunch with 1.804 OPS, 6 HR's & 13 RBI; The 6 round-trippers is easily a BoS Playoff Series record!

Martinez' record-breaking performance triggered memories of Portland's Freddie Freeman from a few years ago, while Holland's run can be compared to the equivalent of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 2007 Colorado Rockies & the 2014 Kansas City Royals.

The National League Championship Series featured a familiar playoff face in their ace, Madison Bumgarner... of course, most MLB fans are quite aware of his playoff success, but let it be known that in the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League, he has been no stranger here as well. Certainly, the Chicago franchise won't forget his name anytime soon.

Bumgarner would go 1-0, with 1.13 ERA, 20 K's in 16 innings of work (including his 4-hit, 1 ER, 11 K performance in Game 2). By the way, let's not take away the fact that Zack Greinke (a trade deadline deal) would pay huge dividends with his great LCS performance as well... 1-1, 1.80 ERA & 14 K's in 15 innings -- which included his 3-hit shutout (9 K's) in Game 1 of the series.

It's not far-fetched to believe that "Mad Bum" may be Superman.

A look at Bumgarner's brilliant BoS Playoff Career, so far...

  • 2013 ALDS: 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 13 K / 1 BB (1.050 WHIP), 6 H & 1 ER allowed (6.2 IP).
  • 2014 ALCS: 2-0, 0.56 ERA, 18 K / 5 BB (0.813 WHIP), 8 H & 1 ER allowed (16 IP).
  • 2014 BoS WS: 1-1 5.68 ERA, 12 K / 5 BB (1.184 WHIP), 10 H & 8 ER allowed (12.2 IP).
  • Game 5 - 2014 WS: Only bad outing "Mad Bum" has ever produced, he lasted 5.2 IP, allowing 6 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 walks -- while producing 8 K's. Every other start in his playoff has been 1 ER allowed or less!
  • 2016 ALCS: 1-0, 1.13 ERA, 20 K / 4 BB (.625 WHIP), 6 H & 2 ER allowed (16 IP)
  • Playoff Totals: 5-1, 2.10 ERA, 63 K / 15 BB (.877 WHIP), 30 H & 12 ER allowed (51.1 IP & 7 game starts).

The Fairgrove Tigers combined for a 2.52 ERA, while holding Chicago to a .181 batting average. The Tigers would win the series, 4-2 -- their 2-0 series start with Greinke & Bumgarner proved to be too much for Chicago to overcome.


Next up: The 4th BoS World Series, featuring the 100-62 Fairgrove Tigers (A.L. Champs) against Cinderella's 83-79 Holland Hitchhikers (N.L. Champs) -- N.L. has home-field advantage for this upcoming series.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

More Realistic with Optional Fielding.

Sacrificing fielding for hitters like Gomes has consequences.
In the past, before I played Optional Fielding, I had questions on how it officially works, now that I know how it works, I have not looked back. I was officially shown how it works by my friend James Welch at last summer's 2016 Chicago Fantasy World Series Tournament in Grayslake, Illinois.

Our teams got whooped up on by the young guns in Matthew Pike & Reese Mooney, and we (James & I) would only play 1 game of our 3-game series, due to the fact that our division play ran over & the fact that we wanted to spend quality time with others at the tournament. During that one game though, Jim would introduce me to the aspects of Optional Fielding, and what he does to make it easy for him to make game play go by easily. He mentioned that it is nice to have a easy go-to-index card or sheet, to make the process easily.

I would take that idea & place it on a index card that I use now, it helps a lot -- plus the more you play Optional Fielding, the more & more you recognize the usual numbers used for this play. At first, I would maybe miss a optional fielding opportunity number, but now that I have been playing with Optional Fielding since that Tournament in July, it comes so natural & easy.

Above is my index card, on the right side using Picassa, I highlighted an arrow towards the infield defense which also plays an effect on numbers such as results 21, 22, 24, 25, 29, 33 & 34 -- plus results on left side with the other following positions.

In a recent game for my APBA 2K9 Project, in which the best players from each of the 30 franchises from 2009, 2010 & 2011 seasons -- playing a 162 game season, based off the 2016 MLB schedule, and with Houston as part of the American League; I have decided to show the effects of that game using Optional Fielding to show how it can completely can come into play.

Late career Chipper, definitely a liability.
Before I get to the game I want to showcase -- Earlier this season, I remember playing Jonny Gomes (OF-1) in left field for the Cincinnati Reds, known for his offensive punch. This is just another example on how his defense can be a liability, when you sacrifice fielding in favor of a bat. In a game against St. Louis Cardinals with no one on in the first inning & 1 out, the Cardinals' Colby Rasmus rolled a 'Result 15' -- The Reds are a fielding one team in this game, but in this case when playing Optional Fielding & that certain numbers are specifically assigned to Opt Fielding (like #15), you go to your left fielder's fielding, which in this case Gomes is a OF-1, which goes to Fielding 3 result for Bases Empty -- resulting in 1st & 2nd on a error (E-7 /LF). If Gomes was a OF-2, the play would have resulted in a single, and if he was a OF-3, the play would result in a Fly Out.

I have also seen how Optional Fielding would play out when a late-career Chipper Jones' 3B-3, would result in a 5-3, with runner on 1st advancing to second -- instead of a better fielding third baseman would have pulled off a throw to second, to catch lead runner & pull off a double play -- this is where Optional Fielding plays a huge difference in more realistic play... this is where Chipper's defense will haunt your team from getting out of an inning later, than rather sooner.

So late in a game between the American League Houston Astros visiting Milwaukee, playing the Milwaukee Brewers, I noticed on a few occasions how this game was effected with the realism of Optional Fielding.

Bottom of the 6th:

Both teams are fielding 2 (37) - Bases Empty, Milwaukee up with Ryan Braun leading off the inning, rolls a 53-16 result... If you are playing with the regular basic rules, we all know that the '16 result' against a fielding 2 results in a single, but with OPTIONAL FIELDING, you go to the CF's fielding grade, against the Astros' center fielder Michael Bourn's OF-3, which is a fielding 1 for that position, which results in a FLY OUT with Optional Fielding.

The very next batter was Corey Hart, rolled the same dice roll 53, which in this case was a '17 result' with Houston's right fielder was Hunter Pence (OF-2), a fielding 2 on optional fielding, which this time resulted in a single. Pence has been a fielding 3 in multiple seasons, but for his 2011 card, he's a OF-2, which resulted in a hit over his usual sure out.

Later in the game, Top of the 9th:

Bases empty, one out, Carlos Lee comes to the plate for the Houston Astros, he rolls a 53-15, against Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in left (OF-2) resulting in fielding 2's '15-Single'. Chris Johnson comes to the plate next, rolls a dice roll 53-19, with the '19 result' playing against Milwaukee's Casey McGehee, who is only a 3B-3 -- which results in fielding 3 option, and a single, advancing the runner to second. Now if, this play was hit to a 3B-5 or 3B-6, which the Brew Crew would have Aramis Ramirez in later years at third (3B-5), this play would have resulted in a 5-3, ground out, with runner advancing to second.

Miguel Tejada would roll a 63-31 on next at-bat, which is a FLY OUT result all across the board, but let's say the CF was a fielding OF-1 instead of OF-2 in this case, and that the pinch-runner Jason Michaels (in for Carlos Lee at this point) was F (Fast), he would have tagged up -- this is just another case, where the fielding not being as good as it can be, can come back on the defense & where opponents can scrape a few more runs.

Back to factors such as Chipper Jones, you can see the difference in grading compared to that of a 3B-5 or 3B-6 in players such as Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt & Brooks Robinson; Plus checkout how both Lou Whitaker & Alan Trammell would be fielding 1's in Optional Fielding, which will pay dividends if the Detroit Tigers happen to be fielding a basic game normal fielding as a fielding 2 with a 38 or 39 for example -- using optional fielding will show the payoff of having the best double play combination in MLB history at your disposal.

Now that I took the Optional Fielding challenge, I will keep at it for ALL my solo projects, I would love to take this time & bring this more realistic touch to some of my other Basic APBA player friends, and see if they would take the challenge... believe me, you will love it. I would love to see someone like my friend Rich Z or someone else maybe bring this touch to their solo projects, maybe for one of their solo tournaments, or even a short series.

Anyways, I hope my readers enjoyed this article, I wanted to feature this for many good reasons. I hope you found it entertaining at least.

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