Tuesday, October 31, 2017

1992 Alternate Season - 91' World Series Rematch!

The Atlanta Braves would find themselves against the Minnesota Twins, once again. A year later, after what may be arguably the best World Series of all-time (1991) -- a season which both teams found themselves transitioning from last to 1st in a single-season.

The Braves will send out Steve Avery (19-9, 2.76 ERA) to face Scott Erickson of the Twins (15-9, 3.51 ERA)... This game alone, makes me think about 'what could have been' when it came to Avery's career; Avery led my the National League with 19 wins in this alternate 1992 season.

Avery in real-life, went 47-25 during a three-year stretch (1991-1993) with a 3.17 ERA, 391 K, 1.199 WHIP in 667.1 combined innings. He was only 21-to-23 years of age, during this stretch, in which he also sported a 122 ERA+... and although he would have a couple huge moments in the 1995 playoffs (Game 4 - NLCS vs Cincinnati & Game 4 of the World Series vs. Cleveland), 1994 was the beginning on the end, a derailed career due to a 1994 arm injury.

I still have his 1989 Topps Rookie Card to this day, which is actually (although not worth anything) one of my favorite Baseball rookie cards that I own; He is pictured in his Kennedy High School (Taylor, Michigan -- just southwest of Dearborn) uniform. It was one of those cards that you would believe that this could be you someday, I was a 12 year-old when I pulled this card out of the pack.

Back to the project now...

GAME 1 (at Minnesota)

The Metrodome will host Game 1 of this highly-anticipated match-up, with two key injuries on both sides, Ron Gant (.261, 29 HR, 96 RBI & 32 steals) of the Braves, torn his meniscus (during Game 5 of the NLCS) and will be out for the remainder of the postseason, while Shane Mack (.338, 26 HR, 127 RBI & 13 steals) of the Twins, will likely miss the World Series as well with a hamstring strain. Tony Tarasco was added to the playoff roster for Atlanta in Gant's place.

All was quiet the first few innings until Lonnie Smith, the designated hitter, smacked a three-run HR (off Erickson), following a throwing error by Twins' third baseman Marty Cordova on the previous play (all in the 4th Inning).

Minnesota would not collect their first hit, until 3.2 innings through, with a single to center by Cordova.

In a humorous moment, after a Chili Davis single, Kent Hrbek successfully laid down a bunt (in the 5th), and moved Davis up to second -- none of it paid off as the Twins still trailed, 3-0.

Things got interesting in the bottom of the 8th, as Chuck Knoblauch batted in Pedro Munoz on a two-out double off-the-wall in deep center, trailing the Braves by only two runs (3-1); Knoblauch smacked the double off of setup man Greg McMichael, who came in after the one-out walk that Munoz drew from Avery. The Braves decided to intentionally walk Kirby Puckett, and face the aggressive Marty Cordova, who is known to swing at bad pitches; Cordova ends up hitting into a force to end the inning.

Bottom of the 9th, the Braves call on their closer Alejandro Pena, who closed 40 of 47 save opportunities this season. Brian Harper leads off with a single to center. Chili Davis hits into a fielder's choice, as Harper is out at second... which made me scratch my head, why did they not pinch-run for the slow Harper instead, in a game that runs are hard to come by. Pena walks Kent Hrbek, and now there are runners (slow runners I might add) on 1st & 2nd with one out... We need the Braves to get the Twins to hit into a game-ending double play here.

The Twins call on pinch-hitter, lefty Matt Lawton (.358, 3 HR & 27 RBI in 190 AB); Lawton, like Brad Radke, got his MLB debut three years early. I'm calling on my lefty Kent Mercker (5-2, 2 SV, 1.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP & 62 K's in 73.1 innings) who had an amazing season for the Braves, his real big flaw is the walk (35 BB).

Lawton does what I was hoping for, by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play... Braves win a nail-biter!

Lonnie Smith just loves playing these Twins in the World Series, he hit 3 home runs in the 1991 World Series, and added another one tonight. Steve Avery wins another playoff game (2-0), striking out 4, while only allowing 4 hits in 7.1 innings; His 1992 postseason has been outstanding so far, with a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings, with 12 K's.

Avery's career postseason (1991-1992) is a notch better: 4-0, 1.61 ERA, 37 K & 8 BB in 50.1 innings, with a 0.95 WHIP, 250 ERA+ & 1.9 WAR.

GAME 2 (at Minnesota)

The Twinkies will have to bounce back after a tough loss that watched their team struggle to collect 6 hits, and were still within reach to tie or win the game at the end... only to still lose the game.

The Braves will be sending out southpaw Charlie Leibrandt (13-11, 4.27 ERA) to face off against Kevin Tapani (18-7, 3.94 ERA). Both teams head out with the same lineups; Lonnie Smith is batting .500 (5-for-10, HR & 4 RBI) in limited play this postseason, as he was the difference maker along with Steve Avery in Game 1.

Now it's Game 2, the board has been cleared off, new script...

The Braves' Chipper Jones starts things off quickly, by smacking a deep two-run homer to right-center; Jones has filled in nicely at short for the injured Jeff Blauser (Blauser is out for the remainder of the season). Chipper batted .294 with 2 HR & 30 RBI in 265 at-bats, his rookie year.

Terry Pendleton followed with a single, while Dave Justice draws a walk, all with no outs for Sid Bream, but the Twins eventually get out of what could have been a huge inning.

Top of the 3rd, with runners on 1st & 2nd, two outs -- Lonnie Smith strikes again, with an two-run double (scoring in Justice), Dave Valle would hit in Smith, to make it 5-0 Braves.

Meanwhile, while the Atlanta Braves have 7 hits through 3 innings, the Minnesota Twins are struggling to collect hits, with one.

Top of the 4th - Chipper Jones collects his 3rd hit, a lead-off double, to go along with a single & home run (a triple away from the cycle). Sid Bream would drive in Jones on a two-out double, as Deion Sanders would add to the Atlanta hit parade (single), driving in Bream, giving the Braves a commanding 7-0 lead.

Bottom of the 4th - Marty Cordova would hit out a Leibrandt mistake-pitch to put a run on the board.

This game would be the tale of two games...

Charlie Leibrandt had good stuff, and allowed only 3 hits (2 hits by Cordova) through 7 innings of work, with 3 K's. The Twins appeared to have been shut down for a second consecutive night, the Twins would score a cheap run in the bottom of the 8th, trailing 8-2; Atlanta would add an insurance run (which didn't seem necessary) in the top of the 9th, to give the Braves a 9-2 lead.

Bottom of the 9th, seemed normal, I decided to give Marvin Freeman some work, he allowed a hit, and had two outs recorded. I decided to give Mike Bielecki some work, and although he was allowing some hits, I never thought it would become a problem, I was one out away. Called in Alejandro Pena, no cigar, before I knew it... Marty Cordova delivered a game-tying two-out, two-run double, setting up Brian Harper's walk-off single.

A total collapse of the bullpen, allowing 9 hits & 9 runs in two innings!

Atlanta could be returning home to Atlanta with a 2-0 series lead, but it's tied up now at 1-1.

Harper: Walk-off hero in bizarre game.

Monday, October 30, 2017

1992 Alternate Season - LCS Action (OOTP18)

The great thing about Out of the Park Baseball 18, you can do numerous projects (like mentioned in previous posts); One of those projects is the 1992 Alternative Season (with no expansion).

Montreal trades Alou away.
I momentarily took over the GM & Manager responsibilities of the 1992 Atlanta Braves. I was able to get them to win the N.L. West edging the Cincinnati Reds, and we ended up facing the Montreal Expos in the 1992 National League Championship Series. The Expos got there by trading aways Moises Alou to the Houston Astros in exchange for pitchers Shane Reynolds and Rob Murphy. Reynolds will add more depth to the rotation in the future, while 32 year-old left-handed vet Murphy, had an excellent season for Montreal with a 3-1 record, 3 saves, 1.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, with 44 K in 55.1 innings; He also had a 241 ERA+ & 1.2 WAR as well.

The Braves would lose Game 1 of the NLCS, 6-1 to Montreal. Ken Hill pitches a strong seven-inning, three-hit performance that allowed only one run, while Tom Glavine gets rocked for 6 hits, 4 runs & 4 walks in only 2.2 innings.

In Game 2, Atlanta got started early against Chris Nabholz, who the Braves have struggled against during the season (batting .211) -- scoring 3 runs during the top of the 1st, highlighted by Terry Pendleton's sac fly that inning. The 3rd Inning featured the biggest surprise as Dave Valle (acquired from Seattle for two prospects), hit a two-run HR to give Atlanta a 5-0 lead. Steve Avery would go on to pitch a complete game shutout, striking out 5, while allowing 8 hits & 2 walks.

Puckett & the boys want a repeat World Title.
Meanwhile in the American League, the 1992 American League Championship features the 108-win Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Twins had both hitting & pitching this season, as they blew away the competition in the A.L. West, by winning the division by 20 games! (Seattle was 2nd place with 88 wins) While Canadians are hoping for an All-Canada World Series this year, featuring both Montreal & Toronto, the idea of a 1991 World Series rematch between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, or a real-life 1992 Braves-Blue Jays World Series are also possible. 

Kirby Puckett went on to win his 2nd A.L. Batting Title by hitting .348, with 12 HR & 115 RBI, while teammates Shane Mack (.338, 26 HR, 127 RBI & 13 SB) and Brian Harper (.321, 15 HR & 101 RBI) were not far behind. Chili Davis led the team with 39 HR (while hitting 128 RBI) & Kent Hrbek was his consistent, reliable self with 23 HR & 88 ribbies. The bad news is that Mack will be out for two weeks with a hamstring strain. 

The Twins' rotation was a solid one, 1-4, led by John Smiley (22-4, 2.73 ERA) -- whose 22 wins led the American League, a season after he led the National League with 20 wins. Kevin Tapani (18-7, 3.94 ERA) & Scott Erickson (15-9, 3.51 ERA) were steady starters all season long, while prospect Brad Radke was a pleasant surprise at 12-9 with a 3.30 ERA; Radke's development is about three years early, considering that his real-life MLB debut did not happen until 1995. Mark Guthrie (10 wins) & Rick Aguilera (37 saves) were solid out of the pen.

Baseball is back in Montreal... well in a alternate flashback at least (We'll take it!)
Game 3 of the NLCS -- Sloppy play and a bad John Smoltz outing, put the Braves on the short-end of the stick, as they could not keep matching Montreal's scoring. Braves started off early with a two-run single in the 1st by Dave Justice, but it was Larry Walker's go-ahead, lead-off homer in the 5th that would knock out Smoltz (4 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 K & 3 BB). The Braves got as close as 6-5 with runners on 2nd & 3rd with 2 outs in the 9th, but pinch-hitter Ruben Amaro Jr. could not get the tying run across the plate, as John Wetteland secures the two-inning save.

Dave Justice would go 4-for-4, all singles, a walk & 2 RBI in the losing cause, as Montreal now leads the series, 2-1.

The Minnesota Twins meanwhile have a 2-0 series lead over the Blue Jays. During Game 1, Marty Cordova hit a solo HR in the 8th Inning off of Jack Morris (Ex-Twin, 1991 WS hero) to give the Twins breathing room, 8-6. Game 2, a 4-run 4th Inning helped the Twins to a 6-3 victory, with Brian Harper going 2-for-3 with 2 RBI, while Dante Bichette added 2 RBI; Bichette was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for reliever Carl Willis and pitching prospect Cory Lidle.

Game 4 (in Atlanta) - The Braves bounce back & even the series, 2-2. Tom Glavine fared better with 7 innings, 6 H, 3 ER, 5 K & 3 walks. The Expos came within a run with a solo HR by Wil Cordero in the 7th inning (off of Glavine). Dave Justice continues hot LCS going 1-for-2, HR, BB & RBI, while batting .357 during the series. Alejandro Pena gets the two-inning save. Lonnie Smith delivers clutch pinch-hit RBI single to give Braves, 4-3 win.

After the Blue Jays evened up the ALCS, 2-2, they get clobbered in Game 5 by the Twins with a whopping score of 14-1, while the series also goes back to Minnesota.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tigers Off to Solid Start (Out of the Park)

Calhoun has been a beast for the Tigers.
As you have read lately, I am now the proud owner of the Out of the Park 18 (PC Game). In one of my projects on there, I am replaying the 2012 Detroit Tigers era. During our 2012 season, we fell short, but are rolling off to an excellent 9-3 start in 2013.

We currently lead the A.L. Central over the Chicago White Sox by 1.5 games. We currently lead the American League in Batting Average (.297), On-Base, Slugging, OPS (.797), hits (126) & Runs scored (66), while our pitching has also been pretty strong, as our starting pitchers' ERA leads the league with a 2.10 mark. Our bullpen's lousy ERA (5.10) is a bit deceiving as they had some fat innings in games that were relatively lost; Not your typical Tiger bullpen of blown leads or saves if that's what you were wondering.

Trading for Kole Calhoun proved to be a steal so far, as he leads the club in slugging (.612), OPS [On Base + Slugging] (.971), Extra Base Hits (9 XBH), Isolated Power (.265), Total Bases (30) & Triples (2); He also is 2nd in Batting Average (.347), hits (17) & RBI (12).

Meanwhile, our second baseman that we decided to keep in Devon Travis (over Rougned Odor), has picked up where he left off in 2012; He is batting .347, with 2 HR & 13 RBI (both tops for the team); He also leads the team in runs (13), while 3rd with a .933 OPS.'

Justin Upton has heated up, leading the team with a .364 batting average, while Andy Dirks & Austin Jackson are among the top area in many offensive categories as well.

The pitching highlights are as follows...

Max Scherzer is showing why he is the man, with a 3-0 record & microscopic 0.78 ERA in 23 innings & 3 starts (1 complete game); He currently has a 1.2 WAR, 23 strikeouts, while holding opponents to only 5.87 hits per 9 IP & a .183 batting average.

The next best starter has been Doug Fister, 2-1, 2.33 ERA, 14 K's in 19.1 Innings; Fister has a 0.83 WHIP, while only allowing 0.93 walks/9 IP.

Joaquin Benoit has been perfect 4-for-4 in Save Opportunities, with a perfect 0.00 ERA & a low WHIP of 1.07; He has yet to record a strikeout though.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tipping My Cap

Just the beginning: Judge & Sanchez

As you all may know by now, the Houston Astros are now American League Champions, as they got past the relentless Yankees. I'm glad my favorite player, Justin Verlander, will move on to his 3rd World Series (first as an Astro), in which he seeks that World Title that has been eluding him during his amazing career.

I want to also take this moment to tip my cap to the New York Yankees, a team that I was not too thrilled with by eliminating the Cleveland Indians, who I believed was the best team in baseball. As the series went on against the Houston Astros, these Yankees showed plenty of poise beyond their years... Sure Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge showed chinks in the armor, but they (and the team) are only going to get better. The Yankees also proved that they were better than everyone thought, and their amazing bullpen just happened to run out of gas, to be honest. 

I know that the Yankees fan base really don't want to hear it right now, but you have a lot to be proud of from watching these 'Baby Bombers' over-achieve, prematurely... There was many question marks entering the 2017 MLB Season for New York, by season's end, they leaped about two seasons into the future, and should be contenders for years to come.

There are minor question marks now entering next season on three Yankees....
  • Masahiro Tanaka - Has the option to opt out for more money, if he does opt out, the Yankees (or any team for that matter) would be smart not to pay a huge, multi-year deal on a very questionable elbow. Tanaka would be smart to sit pretty with what he's got, and see if he can add to great postseason, by having a solid 2018, then the wallets will open up.
  • Joe Girardi - All sides would be smart to keep Joe in charge of running the ship for the Yankees, Girardi is still relatively young & with this group of Yankees coming up, he can count on plenty of championship possibilities.
  • CC Sabathia - CC will likely sign on for an additional seasonal, he is going to retire as a Yankee, and even though he had his best season in years, he doesn't plan to go elsewhere with his family planted in New York.
The Yankees will only improve with players like Gleyber Torres on the horizon, a new era of Yankee dominance will come to haunt us in the future, for now we'll enjoy the downtime. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Daddy's Got A New Ride!

Out of the Park Baseball 2018

Daddy's got a new ride, I love it! 

I strongly encourage anyone to play this amazing game, all worth it at the great price of $39.99! You can check out their excellent trailers & tutorials on You Tube or the Out of Park Baseball site. For some of you, this may be old news to you, and maybe you have been enjoying this product for years. 

For those that don't know, you can play as far back as 1871, you can replay actual seasons, you can do career modes, where everything changes from year to year on its way to it's alternative path. I have numerous season modes, I'll give you a descriptions of each of my OOTP projects

Mad Max will be driving batters mad for Detroit (not Washington).

Detroit Tigers 2012 (Re-Dux)

We all have wondered what if the Tigers never let Max Scherzer or even Doug Fister go... I started it at the 2012 season & moved forward... 2012 unfortunately didn't go well, I jumped early on acquiring Anibal Sanchez & Omar Infante -- the trade (to Miami) was different though, as I unloaded Jacob Turner with Eugenio Suarez & Curt Casali instead.  

At mid-season with our team 8.5 games out, and with Prince Fielder possibly opting out of his contract, I decided to trade him to the Texas Ranger; My return for Fielder & Hernan Perez was 2B-Rougned Odor, CF-Lewis Brinson & 1B-Andrew Clark. Traded an unhappy Ryan Raburn to the Giants for RP-Joe Biagini. Released Jose Valverde of his 15 Saves & 7.56 ERA, along with Octavio Dotel.

Entering 2013, made many minor league deals for upgraded potential in younger prospects... Regretting my extension to Omar Infante and his payroll of $12.5 million each of the next two seasons, I traded him to Philadelphia with Lewis Brinson & RP-Joe Biagini in exchange for SP-Gabriel Arias (Class A) & 3B-Zach Green... Hated seeing Brinson go, I was in the middle of free agency and was pretty confident in adding Justin Upton (a few years early), which I did get him. This Gabriel Arias's stats look really good, and I need help in the pitching department, particularly bullpen of course. Upgraded prospects in a trade with Seattle that sent them newly-acquired Zach Green. 

Since I am in 'Win Now' mode, and the fact that Devon Travis got his debut earlier by playing the entire 2nd half of 2012, and holding his own. I decided to trade Odor, with SP-Matt Crouse, SP-Thad Weber & Bruce Rondon (hate that guy) to the Angels for star-ready Kole Calhoun (my RF), Upton will play LF, while Austin Jackson in center. Jhonny Peralta is still with us, and he's at short, while Cabrera moved back to 1st with the absence of Fielder... Nicholas Castellanos played well in 2nd half of 2012 as well, and is already at third for me. 

Calhoun is in right, as newly signed Justin Upton (a few years early) is in left.
The only glitch in the plan, Anibal Sanchez who came up for free agency, wanted too much, a 9-year deal at nearly $20 per year, I tried to counter with 4-year deal, top-heavy in front, with a player option after the 2nd year, and it apparently pissed him off, in which I couldn't even contact him any further (LOL!) The Rangers signed him to  a 7-year deal worth $112,700,000 with additional incentives. 

The Tigers drafted SS-Willy Adames, SP-Aaron Blair, LF-Dustin Fowler, RP-Zack Godley, SP-Ian Clarkin & C-Francisco Mejia in the 2012 Draft (which OOTP does in December) just after the Winter Meetings. I was surprised to get all of these studs signed to their bonuses, when denied during 1st 3 rounds, you receive compensation picks, there is draft slots pay, it has it all, you will shit a brick and drool when you see what this game has to offer.

I then lucked out on the Rule 5 Draft and snagged Dellin Betances & Brandon Kintzler, I am not sure how that happened. My bullpen for 2013 will be Joaquin Benoit (Closer) with Betances, Kintzler, Luis Marte, Phil Coke & Kyle Ryan (LH specialist) with Drew Smyly slated in 5th rotation spot for now (his stamina is not good at the moment though), so I may use him like the current real-life Indians use Andrew Miller... I traded for Taylor Jungmann (on a minor league contract), trading two developmental prospects with upside to add him as possible 5th slot guy, just extra insurance that didn't cost me anything. 

My 3 pitching prospects in Gabriel Arias (future rotation starter), Marcelo Carreno & Joshua Turley (closer-type) will get more seasoning in the minors, they are capable of pitching in my pen now, but I want to make sure they continue to improve. My team finished 78-84 in 2012 & are predicted to win the division with 92 wins. 

We are currently 6-1, with both Justin Verlander & Max Scherzer at 2-0. Devon Travis & Kole Calhoun have been brilliant in their roles.


I started a What If 1967 World Series -- You can do exhibitions of any team in MLB history, so I decided to do one involving the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, what if the Tigers got there over the 'Impossible Dream' Red Sox? So far the Tigers are down 1-0 in this series. I also did a series between the 1912 Giants & the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals (since Cards were about the closest thing in the modern era to the dead-ball era)... The St. Louis Cardinals won the series, 4-1, with Willie McGee earning MVP honors, while John Tudor was amazing.


1950 MLB All-Era -- You can do a season with players from all eras, the catch is that it generates plenty of players from eras, but not all of those players at the same time... I started in 1950, with 1950 rules on everything, my team is the Detroit Tigers, and we did a fantasy draft at the beginning, my lineup is CF-Austin Jackson (27), RF-Homer Summa (27), 3B-Wade Boggs (28), LF-Garret Anderson (34), SS-Derek Jeter (37), 1B-James Loney (25), C-Dave Duncan (21) & 2B-David Bell (23). Players at all ages... My rotation is Wilbur Cooper (24), Johnny Cueto (23), Andy Hassler (21), Fred Hutchinson (19) & Carlos Silva (28), while I have John Hiller (27), first Steve Kline (24) & Eric Plunk (27). I have young talent coming up in Johnny GrothWhitey Lockman & Yank Robinson. Ruth has yet to make his debut, while Mookie Betts was an early 1st Round pick by the Washington Senators. 

My Alternative Timeline Career project is the 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates, they actually had Rube Waddell on their roster early that season (which I did not know), so I kept him on team, and they won it all in 1901 & are seeking a repeat, while drafting Frank Schulte & adding pitcher Ed Killian to the club. 

Then there is my 'League of All Leagues' with 40 teams, made up team names, you can create uniforms -- that's really fun, the creativity aspect of the game is pretty amazing. Plus I did an updated rosters of end of 2017, so all players with their prospects in the right places. That's another thing, if you start at say 1991, you will have the players that were prospects at that time in the exact levels that they were at, there is all levels down to Dominican League, Fall League, Independent Leagues, you can play the Japanese Leagues even, and the World Baseball Classic. 

I'm still going to play APBA from time to time, but it's so cool that all the statistics are kept automatically and you can see all the stats in all of the levels, while you can take a look through their profile and see at age 26 where so-and-so was at in his career (through 'Real Stats' sections) you can figure out if a guy is about to hit the wall in his career. 

This game has it all, and in good time I will show you plenty. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The APBA Hall of Fame Set - Part III (The Draft & Teams)

So since I done the last article, I keep getting asked who got drafted first? Plenty asked if it was either Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb? Those two have always been named in a debate, and I'm sure some will question the order of some of these picks, but I was really pleased with the final product for these 12 teams.

The first overall pick was the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, it was a difficult choice, but you couldn't pick a better clean-cut superstar in MLB history than ...

Lou Gehrig, he was everything that a manager could ever have wanted in a player. He was of course, best known on the playing field for his magnificent consecutive games streak that stretched for 2,130 games. He scored 100+ runs & drove in 100+ runs for 13 consecutive seasons. Louisville fans were ecstatic when it was announced he was taken #1 overall, printing out corny T-Shirts, "Gehrig puts the LOU in Louisville".

When people speak of best all-around player, greatest athlete the sport may have seen, most often Willie Mays' name comes up. That is why the Indianapolis Federals made him their top choice with the 2nd Overall Pick in the HOFL Draft. The 20-time All-Star had 3,283 hits & 660 home runs in his illustrious career, not to mention he missed most of 1952 & all of 1953 due to his time with the United States Army.

With the 3rd pick overall, the Washington Potomacs select Babe Ruth, it's pretty fitting when you think about it, Ruth wore #3 and usually batted 3rd in the lineup during his career (or at least while Gehrig played with him). Babe will also be very close to his home town of Baltimore. He was most definitely the biggest iconic superstar the game has ever witnessed, he was the all-time HR king (714) until Hank Aaron came around, while he logged 2,214 RBI; His ridiculous career .690 OPS & 1.164 OPS is tops.

The Chicago Grays selected SS-Honus Wagner for the 4th Selection, I felt it was a strong fit for the team; Easily one of the best ever, and he heads the shortstop crop, although he can play numerous positions such as the outfield & third as well. Plus it's hard to argue with 8 batting titles.

Nothing says New York like the greatest switch-hitter in Baseball history, such as Mickey Mantle, he will bring life to the Big Apple for the New York Gothams.

Outlaws: Cobb & "Shoeless"

The Cincinnati Outlaws would take the biggest outlaw of them all in Ty Cobb, he brings the attitude & swagger that the Outlaws are looking for. They would also add "Shoeless Joe" Jackson in the 2nd Round.

The St. Louis Maroons picked Rogers Hornsby to lead the pack, they would also select numerous players with St. Louis / Missouri connections via geography or Cardinals/Browns.

Here is a list of 17 players with the above-mentioned connections...

  • Ken Boyer (3B/CF)
  • Roger Bresnahan (C/CF)
  • George Brett (3B/1B) [Royals]
  • Orlando Cepeda (1B/LF)
  • Dennis Eckersley (RP)
  • Bob Gibson (SP)
  • Jesse Haines (P)
  • Keith Hernandez (1B)
  • Rogers Hornsby (2B/SS/3B)
  • Tony La Russa (2B) [Maroons' Farm Roster]
  • Roger Maris (RF)
  • Johnny Mize (1B)
  • Red Schoendienst (2B/LF)
  • Ozzie Smith (SS)
  • Joe Torre (C/1B/3B)
  • Rube Waddell (SP)
  • Larry Walker (RF)
More to come in future posts about this current project...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Verlander's career path has him heading towards Cooperstown.
This morning (October 14th), I woke up, got ready for work and prepared for a big day of prep with my wife at the restaurant. We were slammed, we knocked it out, and what kept me going through the day was knowing the fact that we would get out in time for the Yankees-Astros game, and that I would be able to cheer my boy, Justin Verlander on.

I knew since that morning, he was going to rise to the occasion, and as I left work and was saying good-bye to my friends for the day, one of them asked me what I was going to do after work, and I said without hesitation, "I'm going to watch my boy dominate the Yankees".

Many of my readers, many of my friends from my APBA Facebook Group all know how much of a Justin Verlander fan that I am. He is my favorite active player in the game, and has been since he was a rookie. I never wavered, never doubted him, and have always believed in him. There has been many fans of the game that have for about 3-4 years now, that did give up on him, even ones that claimed they were die-hard Tigers fans, saying that Justin was on the decline... I laughed at all this.

His performance the other night was a gem that reminded me of performances such as Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between John Smoltz and Jack Morris. Never in my time of cheering him on have I ever witnessed such a performance by Justin (of course, I happened to miss the two no-hitters). His performance moved me so much that I found myself tearing up between the bottom of the 8th & top of the 9th. I knew what he was capable of, while many gave up on him long ago, I was still blown away regardless.

Not to do a whole history lesson here, but as you all may know, J.V. suffered a serious injury that effected his physical ability, which is reflected in 2014 & 2015's statistics. His injury required surgery to his major core area (abdominal region), which also effected his right shoulder a bit as well, his velocity was down. Injuries happen in this game, and it's the great ones that get back up & learn new ways & lessons to get back to the very top.

He should have won the A.L. Cy Young Award last season, and barely lost the award to Tampa Bay's David Price in 2012; He could easily have 3 Cys by now. Personally, if I had a vote in this year's Cy Young, I would make him my 1st vote, I know it sounds crazy, and yes I am saying this in a half-serious way, but in the last couple months, he has been the best pitcher in baseball... not one of the best, or among the best, he has been the best pitcher... To say he wasn't, would be like admitting you have been living in a cave or something.

It's absurd what he has accomplished not only in the last couple months, but his entire career. Here is a quick look at his career from a glance...

  • Drafted 1st Round (2nd Overall) in the 2004 June Amateur Draft, out of Old Dominion University.
  • 2006 American League Rookie-of-the-Year Award winner.
  • 2006 & 2012 World Series appearances.
  • 2011 A.L. MVP & Cy Young Award winner, becoming the 1st starting pitcher to get both awards in the same season since Roger Clemens (1986).
  • 2011 Triple Crown (for pitchers) - leading the league in wins (24), ERA (2.40) & strikeouts (250).
  • 2,373 Career strikeouts as a Tiger, is 2nd to Mickey Lolich (2,679); More than Hall-of-Famer Hal Newhouser's 1,770 K's.
  • Career record of 188-114, with a 3.46 ERA & 2,416 strikeouts.
  • Career WAR of 56.6
  • 2017 Season WAR (6.4) - best since 2012. 
Now some more in-depth statistics...
  • His 2009-2012 stretch was simply brilliant: 78-31 (.716 winning pct), with 977 K's, 1.076 WHIP & a combined 26.1 WAR; Those 4 seasons average out to a 20-8 record, 2.95 ERA, 244 K, along with a 145 ERA+ to go along with a average WAR of 6.5 WAR per season -- To put his 2017 performance into perspective, he had a season WAR of 6.4, meaning he is pitching as good as he did during his 2009-2012 stretch, which he has accomplished in his white-hot second half.
  • His Houston Astros numbers: Perfect 5-0 in 5 regular season starts, featuring a 1.06 ERA, 0.647 WHIP & 43 strikeouts in 34 innings, while holding opponents to a .149 batting average and .192 on-base percentage.
  • Career 6-0 record in League Division Series [LDS] play.
  • Career Post-Season record (entering 2017 Game 2 ALCS): 9-5, 3.36 ERA, 1.103 WHIP with 115 strikeouts in 107 innings (18 games / 17 game started).
  • Most Postseason games with 10+ strikeouts in MLB history with 7 total; Randy Johnson & Bob Gibson had 5. 
  • His 128 strikeouts in the postseason is tops among active pitchers.
The Houston Astros got him on the very last minute of the final-final trade deadline on August 30th, and Verlander & Houston have not looked back. The only regret would be Houston thinking they could have got him even earlier.

Verlander continues to pad his excellent postseason numbers as they should help solidify his resume for Cooperstown. With him now playing for a winner again, he will achieve 200 wins next season (which he would have with Detroit even) & now will be competing for the 250 mark. The last few years with the Tigers, it's safe to sat that he has probably lost about 10-12 potential wins, so he would probably already have 200+ wins at this moment even.

In today's game, with bullpens eating up starting pitchers' opportunities for wins, 250 wins will be the new '300' marker. It's been like this for some time, and at age 30, both CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander had the best chances for 300 wins among active players, which is now looking impossible.

Although I am talking about wins, let it be known, that I believe wins is the most overrated pitching statistic in all of baseball. Wins really comes down to luck, being in the right place at the right time to accumulate the wins, having a team that keeps the lead after a starting pitcher is taken out of the game, etc etc....

There are more telling pitching stats that paint a picture of Verlander, being a Hall-of-Fame pitcher than wins will ever tell. His career strikeouts sit at 2,416 K, and at his current rate, he will pass the 3,000 mark (which is another Hall bench-mark number). His lifetime WAR (56.6) is higher than Mordecai Brown (56.4) and Waite Hoyt (51.8) both Hall of Fame pitchers -- while his career WAR is higher than Joe Medwick (55.6), Enos Slaughter (55.1), Billy Herman (54.7) & Sam Rice (52.9) who are Hall of Fame players. 

Comparing Hoyt to Verlander:
  • Waite Hoyt (51.8 WAR): 237-182 (.591 winning pct), 3.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP & 1,206 strikeouts (112 ERA+)
  • Justin Verlander (56.6 WAR): 188-114 (.623 winning pct), 3.46 ERA, 1.184 WHIP & 1.184 WHIP & 2,416 strikeouts (124 ERA+).
Verlander clearly has double the strikeouts, much-better WHIP, with similar ERA & winning percentages, while Hoyt accomplished most of his winning percentage (157-98, .616 pct) with having the privilege that comes with wearing pinstripes; Hoyt accomplished his better ERA with the Pittsburgh Pirates (3.06) actually. 

The Hall of Fame should be about players reflecting their eras, and Justin Verlander, along with Clayton Kershaw are among the best of their era, while at the same time we can measure up players to those already enshrined (such as Hoyt). When you keep bouncing around the numbers, Verlander is indeed a Hall of Fame pitcher. Things that will solidify his case will be 230-250 career wins, 3,000 K's (which should be a shoe-in), and lowering his career ERA.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bad for Baseball

The game ended the way that it was called all night... inside pitches.

Never have I ever witnessed a team get rewarded with inside pitches for strikes like the New York Yankees' pitchers were rewarded with. The last pitch was just icing on this dookie of a cake, not only was it inside, it was up-and-inside, give the guy (Austin Jackson) a chance to battle out the last at-bat... Yes, their backs were up against this wall at this point with little hope, but damn it, let the guy battle it out at least.

A few moments after the game ended, there was plenty of things that I came to realize... I realized we may all have been had. Take in last night's game, add that to the obvious-juiced ball that was present all season long, add that all to the wow factor (all rise) that Aaron Judge does for the sport. It all equals out to a pathway that MLB may have been wanting all along, the New York Yankees with the sports' most marketable player leading the way to ratings, ratings, ratings.

Think about it, it all makes sense.

I fear that Baseball may have surrendered to the same means that the NBA & NFL go about their business, some may argue that this is a good thing. Yes, the MLB needs to get creative in their marketing, which I believe they have done much better since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has come on board. I fear that they may have sold their souls, to get their biggest market (New York) into the championship picture, sooner than later.

MLB's most marketable superstar - Aaron Judge.
Are we going to witness more bad strike-calling like last night, a game that by the way, which resulted in MLB record of a combined 31 strikeouts, in the same exact way that the NBA refs go about molding the script?

Yes, the Yankees struck out 16 of those 31 times, but they have a few guys who strike themselves out... while the Cleveland Indians are not known to strike out as much, nearly matched them, and there was plenty of low & insides that were down by the shoelaces that CC Sabathia was getting over & over! I'm sorry, I know he bounced back with his best season since 2012, but Sabathia recording 9 K's in only 4.1 innings?

Yeah.... I call horseshit

A true baseball fan is upset (like myself) that the best team in all of baseball, the Cleveland Indians got knocked out of the playoffs. The Indians were stacked from top to bottom, had one of the most beautiful endings to a regular season, witnessing their amazing 22-game winning streak along the way. A team that would do this, without some of their star players, while the world is finally getting to know some of their younger studs in Jose Ramirez & Francisco Lindor even more, although they both had horrible series.

Jose Ramirez & Francisco Lindor were quiet in their ALDS.
Overall, I am not trying to take anything away from the Yankees battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, or Brett Gardner's magnificent at-bat that led to the two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. I think Joe Girardi has done an excellent job managing this ball club, and that it's Girardi who is the number one reason that they got this far.

John Smoltz and many baseball analysts echoed the same thoughts last night, at the beginning of the season (or even beginning of series) did we even think that we would be witnessing the New York Yankees even being in this position, that they are now?

The answer was an overwhelming NO.

Entering 2017, I felt it was possible that they could be a wild card team, which they would end up accomplishing that. They had a rough stretch from June 13th - July 14th, going 7-19 in the process, where they did not look like a contending team whatsoever... and have come so far since then. They are definitely better than we thought back in April, and although they matched well in bullpens to Cleveland, they live-and-die with the long ball, they are very one-dimensional with a rag-tag rotation that makes you question... how did they get this far?

Their rotation is CC Sabathia (overweight vet), Masahiro Tanaka (hurt elbow), Luis Severino (overall best Yankee pitcher, who has not been consistent in playoffs) & Sonny Gray, who sported a 3.72 ERA since becoming a Yankee, a guy who usually pitches better than that. Then there is Jordan Montgomery who is inconsistent, but has shown promise... and then there is the joke that Michael Pineda is, who seemed to have his best days when there is mysterious substances on his neck and hands. The staff did have one thing going for it, they overall had pretty solid WHIP (Walks+Hits allowed per Innings pitched), this of course helps with having Joe Girardi at the helm with one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

I can only imagine the horror that is taking place on the message boards right now, with over-obnoxious Yankees fans running their mouths as if they already won the title. Yes, they have a right to be excited, they knocked out the Cleveland Indians, the rightfully-so favored heavyweight, they were done for 0-2 after the Game 2 meltdown.... but let me tell you this though, they are not great fans though, they'll bury Girardi every chance they get when things go wrong, and they will do the same when they lose their upcoming series against the Houston Astros.

At the same time, I thought the best team would win this series, I am just hoping (and praying) that this is not another 1996 -- which was another Yankee team ahead of schedule, winning a World Series over a better deserved team.

By the way, back to the juiced ball... I fear that it is going to water-down Major League Baseball, much in the same way that the NFL's pass-happy game has done to that sport, or in the same way that the NBA has relied on the three-pointer...Ughhh... boring! I hate it, when a sport loses its strategic edge, I don't want to see pitchers' best ERAs up around 3.75... For crying out loud, quit punishing pitchers already!

I think the obsession over home runs is downright silly, it comes off in the same way as a redneck country bumpkin's love for monster trucks, explosives or a love of shooting things up. I'm fine and dandy, if the player is actually hitting them without help, but the juiced ball has been evident in players such as Logan Morrison (38 HR, previous career high 23 in 2011) who entered the season on the decline arch of his career, along with players Justin Smoak (38 HR, previous career high 20 in 2013) & Mike Moustakas (38 HR, previous career high 22 in 2015). There are cases all around baseball, such as the aging vet Jed Lowrie putting up 14 HR this season, after accumulating only 17 HR in his previous 1,070 at-bats -- to the rookies making quick splashes like the Phillies' Rhys Hoskins (18 HR in 170 at-bats), L.A.'s Cody Bellanger (24 HR in first 232 at-bats/through June) & Oakland's Matt Olson (24 HR in 189 at-bats).

Matt Olson & others are making it look too easy.
It used to be cases, such as the ones above, but they happened once-in-awhile, remember Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer? Once in a huge while.. not all in one year. I think many of my APBA Baseball friends will quickly admit, that they don't recall so many 'monster cards' in one set, and the 2017 APBA Season Card set will have aplenty.

By the way, let it be known that I do think Aaron Judge is a great kid, and if anything good came out of him getting the rookie record (even with the juiced ball) of 52 HR, he took down a record held by a cheater in Mark McGwire... although he was not a cheater yet (for all we know), McGwire set that record in what was also a well-documented juiced ball season.

I don't want to see pitching disappear, it's bad enough starting pitchers don't get to leave their marks in the postseason anymore with such short leashes, but if this juiced ball continues, who's going to watch a game that doesn't have pitching anymore?

There is plenty of things that needs to improve in this game of baseball, so I will stop at this moment, and wrap this post up...

until next time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fantasy World

Changing gears, I have never had great luck in fantasy sports league, be it baseball or football.

This season is the second straight year that a handful of us at Applebee's are participating in a football league, ran by friend, Buddy. Last season I finished 7-9, had no receiving corps, or rushing game last season... Julio Jones started off slow, Minnesota's D was good early on for me, as was Phillip Rivers was, but by season's end it was a gigantic slide.

My Gotham City Rogues entered 2017 looking for redemption.

This year, everything has been going strong for me (hopefully I am not jinxing myself with this post). My biggest problem seems to be deciding which quarterback to start between Kirk Cousins (WAS), Jameis Winston (TB) & my Week 3 signing of Carson Wentz (PHI).

My receiving corps is pretty solid with my top two receivers A.J. Green (CIN) & DeAndre Hopkins (HOU), while Rishard Matthews (TEN) will be in the third starting WR slot for Week 5 for Terrell Pryor (WAS) who finally woke up this week, but is on a 'bye' week & overall has been a disappointment for me.

Entering Week 5, Gotham ranked third.
My running back & top overall pick, Le'Veon Bell (PIT) just rushed for 144 yards & two TD's to help my team to a whopping 114.78 - 48.62 Week 4 victory. I actually forgot to start the Bears' Jordan Howard in the lopsided victory, his teammate Tarik Cohen got the nod for me, so that was 8 more points I could have had. My 4th running back, Isaiah Crowell (CLE) has been declining in performance the last couple weeks, and may be finding himself on the chopping block eventually, but then again, that depends what the cut is for... having Crowell as my 4th worst rushing option is a luxury that some other team (even contending competition) would love to add.

The record book after Week 4, it would get updated again in Week 5.
I even thought about going for the Houston Texans' rookie QB Deshaun Watson, just for that purpose, but having 4 QB's seems to be a bit ludicrous.

Actually after I just finished typing the above sentence, I made a waiver bid, and acquired him, which led to me offering him & Rishard Matthews to the Big Ballers fantasy team in exchange for WR-Antonio Brown & Kevin Williams. At first, I never thought he would bite, but the deal was approved and went through & the league voted it through as well.

So now I have a three-headed hydra in A.J. Green, Antonio Brown & DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver.... that's just nuts!

My WR hydra's totals entering Week 6...

  • A.J. Green (CIN) - 66.40 points, 32 rec, 504 yards & 3 TD.
  • DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) - 66.30 points, 35 rec, 363 yards, 5 TD
  • Antonio Brown (PIT) - 60.50 points, 40 rec, 545 yards, TD

We would go on and slaughter Downtown Brown's Team, 125.26 - 44.90, breaking the single-season margin mark that I just set the previous week at 80.36... So I outscored my last two opponents a combined 240.04 - 93.52 (146.52 margin) -- Did I mention the two teams that I whooped are a married couple?

I noticed the previous week, that the last couple weeks I was bleeding potential points in having the Ravens' defense & their kicker Justin Tucker, so I happened to get the Rams' kicker Greg Zuerlein, while falling short on getting Buffalo's defense. Baltimore is still my primary defense at the moment, I did pick of the Detroit Lions defense, they'll be backup this week, while they have a 'bye' next week.

It won't all be easy, although it has gone really well up to this point, I have to do some juggling with my lineups. Week 9, I will have my receiver Antonio Bryant, and all 3 of my mainstay running backs on 'bye's at the same time, while in Week 10, both of my tight ends have a 'bye' at the same time along with QB Carson Wentz.

By the way, after my Week 4 whooping on Sara's Team, this is what the fantasy football site wrote afterwards...

Really?!?! Really, Yahoo Sports? "Free Fallin' like Tom Petty" in regards to her team?
Too soon, we miss you very much Tom!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shifting the Focus

There has been plenty going on of late, and we all know when times get busy, it means less time to do the things that we love.

I love playing APBA, but I have not been able to play much in the past few months.

My wife & I went to a wedding on June 28th, witnessing two of our friends tying the knot. Around that time, I purchased the fairly new APBA Hall of Fame Set, I played 18 games in the next 24 hours, then summer happened and since then have played about 30 games total in the last 82 days. This coming from a guy who was playing at least 24-30 games a week back in the year 2013.

During the summer, the wife & I have done a lot of prep work on our restaurant job, we work 5 days a week, often with Wednesday & Thursday off. We average 36-40 hours a week, give or take, in which our days can range from 8 am to 4 pm on a average-sized day to short days in which we get prep done by 1 or 2 pm -- to long days (usually Fridays) from 8 am to 6,7, or even 8 pm. Prepping, standing in one spot for 12 hours, during hot summer days, can be torturous, so when we get out we usually don't have the energy to do fun hobbies, usually we kick back and watch Netflix or Hulu.

I have watched more Baseball than usual, and I watch Quick Pitch every morning... so that's good.

The wife & I have watched our shows, since June we have watched the recent seasons of Orange is the New Black, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Stranger Things on Netflix, while I got her into Seinfeld, in which we have watched (most of the) first 7 seasons together in this time. She finally wanted to understand the Seinfeld-isms at the Baier Family dinner table that get quoted in the same likes of scripture.... everything from shrinkage, to sponge-worthy, to yada..yada...yada!

We also watched plenty of Elementary from time to time, while I feel like I am leaving a few other programs. 

We also did some beach time, barbecues, trips downstate (my Grandma's 90th Birthday) & a Detroit Tigers game.

With everyday life and every year going by quicker & quicker, I need to dial back on blogging on every single APBA game in my projects, and blog more about the projects in more minimal detail, and on Baseball in general... It does not mean I will not go into detail on my APBA games, but I found myself putting pressure on doing a blog piece, and then would not have the energy to blog or even play a game... It seemed like too much energy, and I found myself suddenly not having fun, and that's alarming for me, so now I plan to blog in different ways, in which I the blogger and my blog followers can all have fun.

Think of a camera zooming in and then zooming out, that's how I plan to go about the projects, from time to time, I will zoom in and give much detail and then I will zoom out, focus on something else from a glance, then eventually zoom in on that, or zoom back out onto something else.

I'm finally focusing on my down time, and to enjoy that down time, on my own terms.
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