Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Blame Game

It's that time of year again, when everyone loses their damn minds...

Over the holiday season madness?


Over the fact that some team's owner (competing with other owners) was willing to shell out the money to a big free agent, signing him to a pricey, long-term deal, all in an attempt to make his team better, or to compete against the other teams. The deal is announced to the press, in which the average baseball fan screams bloody murder, saying things like the contracts are getting ridiculous, and that the players are just downright greedy. This complaint often seems to come from the fan born before 1970, while fans even younger than myself seem to have a more understanding about the times, and feel the product should be paid.

My question to the old school is this...
Are you saying if you are offered more money, even if seems to be more than enough, you wouldn't take it?

Of course you would...
and if you say you wouldn't, well my friend, you are lying.

I wish that we lived in a world that our teachers, police, surgeons and military are paid more than they are actually paid. I served in the United States Navy from 1996 through 2000, and worked alongside other veterans from the other branches of the government, and knew cases where military families were depending on food stamps, and this was before the recession.

We unfortunately don't live in that world. We do live in a world where there everyone is judged on everything by everyone, and that regardless of what they do, they are never going to make anyone happy.

We live in a world where fat-cat CEO's make millions-upon-millions-upon-millions for running pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and cooperate giants such as Wal-Mart. Companies like Wal-Mart have found ways to cut corners, gain more money, by cutting their payroll and staff. Wal-Mart claims to supply more jobs than any U.S. company, well that's not difficult to do as a overall number when you have the most locations of any company (not counting fast food joints)... but the truth of the matter is that each of their individual stores have cut staff all across the board, and through the years have cut tons of the benefits that employees used to earn. The Wal-Mart of 30 years ago, is a far cry from the Wal-Mart of today... Believe me, Sam Walton is rolling in his grave.

My point is that these companies have financially raped their workers, while companies like Spectrum have financially raped their customers by cornering the cable media market. So my point is that these CEO's and top pinnacles of these companies are saturated with the wealth, and have so much wealth that they couldn't piss it away if they tried. Not to mention all the questionable mergers, or that we allow companies to corner markets, or the simple fact that these rich bastards don't pay squat when it comes to taxes, and yet most Americans seem to look the other way from all this....

... but the moment a baseball player, who is out there keeping us entertained, signs a big deal netting him millions, everyone loses it.

Fans frown on the fact that these players are making $27-$33 million a year, meanwhile the average movie star is making that much per film, and some of these actors will put out 5-to-7 films out on a year. Take in the fact, that we are talking about today's Hollywood, which has milked the nostalgia machine by doing nothing but sequels and reboots, while most of them have been really good. Hollywood got lazy. I'm sorry, but I rather shell out the money for a baseball game, than pay for an overprice movie any day of the week, plus I'm happy whether my team wins or loses, because I still had fun at the game, while with the movies, you are most often going to end up seeing a flop.

The fact of the matter is that the players have earned it. The owners have had no problems trying to outbid one another for the prize that may put them over the top.

During the last 3 seasons, the New York Yankees have not been able to move beyond the American League Championship Series. The Yankees' biggest obstacle has been the Houston Astros, who have defeated the Yankees during the 2017 & 2019 ALCS -- taking both series to at least 6 games. The Yankees' 2019 roadblock happened to be Gerrit Cole, if it were not for Cole, the Yankees could have moved on to the World Series.

So what did the Yankees do?

They signed the lifelong Yankees fan Gerrit Cole, to a worthy long-term deal, which now gives them the likely edge against the Houston Astros. To be the best, New York has to beat the best (Houston being the American League's best), and they definitely have a good chance of doing so, that's why I am already calling it -- These two teams will meet in the 2020 American League Championship Series (Cole vs Verlander, could you imagine?!).

I go to the games to see the players, not the owners, and as a fan I want to see owners be aggressive and sign players. The last few years, the off-season activity was stagnate at best, and due to that baseball fans were not happy.

Now we finally have activity, and yet... baseball fans are still not happy.

We live in a world where people just want to blame something, and unfortunately the players take the brunt of the blame when it comes to baseball. I always say don't blame the product. I keep hearing the old school complaining that they plan to stop following baseball if this continues...

but what do you know?!

Those same so-called fans are here a year later (and they'll be here a year after that, and a year after that) complaining during the same time of year, about the same exact thing.

It's safe to say that the blame game runs rampant in baseball.

Friday, December 13, 2019

1993 N.L. Championship Series Replay (Game 6)

The Braves have now won two straight, winning the last game on a walk-off single by Terry Pendleton, off of unpredictable reliever Mitch Williams. Now the Braves send their ace Greg Maddux to the mound, as they attempt to tie the series.


On the mound: Greg Maddux (Grade A-YZ) for Atlanta vs Tommy Greene (Grade B-X) for Philadelphia, at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia.

Bottom of the 1st: John Kruk draws a two-out walk. Dave Hollins followed with a single off Maddux, moving Kruk up to second. For a moment, Greg Maddux appeared to be against the ropes when he plunked 'Dutch' Darren Daulton with a pitch. Bases loaded for their #6 hitter Jim Eisenreich, but he misses out on a big opportunity as he goes down swinging.

Top of the 2nd: Tommy Greene allows back-to-back walks to sluggers Fred McGriff and David Justice. Game 5 hero, Terry Pendleton grounds out to deep third, while the base runners move up. Damon Berryhill singles to right, McGriff scores, Justice rounds third, while the throw by right fielder Jim Eisenreich comes to the plate, the tag & he's out! Berryhill advances to second. Mark Lemke strikes out, as Greene gets out, allowing only one run.

Top of the 3rd: Otis Nixon with one out, reaches second on a throwing error by pitcher Tommy Greene, who threw the ball over the first baseman John Kruk's head. Jeff Blauser struck out for out number two. Ron Gant hits a ball to left center for a RBI double. Fred McGriff flies out to right for the third out. Braves lead 2-0, while the Phillies have already committed 2 fielding errors.

Top of the 4th: David Justice leads the inning off with a solo blast over the right field wall, while Veterans Stadium is quiet. Justice now has 3 HR for the series, while his teammate Fred McGriff has 4 home runs during this series. Braves 3, Phillies 0

Top of the 7th: The Phillies' Tommy Greene settled down from 5th inning on, while striking out the side during the seventh -- striking out Mark Lemke (for the 3rd time), Greg Maddux & Otis Nixon. Greene now has 10 strikeouts.

Bottom of the 8th: Pete Incaviglia, who has 3 HR this series, comes in to pinch-hit for Milt Thompson, grounds out to short. Kevin Stocker grounds out for the second out. Ricky Jordan comes in to pinch-hit for the pitcher Greene; Jordan strikes out. Braves still lead, 3-0.

Tommy Greene exits with 11 strikeouts in 8 innings of work, 6 hits, 2 earned runs (3 runs) & 2 walks allowed. Reliever David West comes in with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief this series.

Bottom of the 9th: Greg Maddux will stay in to close this one out, as the Braves are 3 outs away from tying up the series, 3-3. Bill Pecota (who came in to pinch-hit for Mark Lemke) will stay in at second base. Sid Bream comes in as a fielding upgrade for Fred McGriff at first base. [The Braves stay at an overall fielding 1 (41), while their infield (34) is a fielding 2].

The Phillies' Lenny Dykstra reaches first on a lead-off walk. Phils' Manager Jim Fregosi will pinch-hit Mariano Duncan for Mickey Morandini. Duncan grounds it to deep short, the throw from Jeff Blauser is in time, while Dykstra reaches second, one out.

Stepping up to the plate is John Kruk, who is batting 10-for-18 (.556 AVG) while drawing 6 walks (.667 OBP) -- He has simply been automatic this series, so Maddux will have to be careful...Maddux delivers, and Kruk strikes out! It is all up to Dave Hollins to keep the Phillies chances in this game alive, the pitch, and he hits it to right, Dykstra will score, score that as an RBI single! Hollins has been the only one able to get a hit off Maddux all day, with two. Darren Daulton steps up, but flies out to right, as Atlanta ties the series up!

Despite his 4 walks, the reigning N.L. Cy Young Greg Maddux was brilliant, allowing only 2 hits & 1 earned run. Maddux recorded 7 straight innings (Innings 2-8) without allowing a hit.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Challenge Accepted!

While I was blogging today, I noticed a conversation on the APBA Facebook Group, the discussion was that of Larry Walker, and the subject of course, is if he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

I have posted many posts through the years, through my ongoing subject "The Ongoing Hall of Fame Debate" posts, so it's no surprise if you have bumped into Larry Walker's name from time to time throughout those posts.

I am not going to go in-depth why he belongs, you can read all about that in those posts.

The reason for this post is that someone in the APBA Facebook Group posted that taking out Walker's inflated numbers due to Coors, you would have a .290 career hitter with 300+ home runs, and stated that there was "Lots of guys like that." ...

Challenge accepted!

My research came up with the following...

There was only 44 players in the history of Major League Baseball that has hit .290 or higher with 300 or more home runs.

Of those 44, 28 of them are already in the Hall of Fame.

Out of the 16 remaining non-Hall of Fame names...

  • 5 of them were connected to HGH or steroids: Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez & Robinson Cano).
  • 3 of the 16 players had Coors Field connections: Matt Holliday, Ellis Burks & Todd Helton.
  • The Rest of the list contains a who's who in many Hall of Fame discussions: Dick Allen, Moises Alou, Albert Belle, Lance Berkman, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Kent & Mo Vaughn.
Miguel Cabrera will easily be added to the Hall, making him 29 of the 44 from this list in the Hall, as he will be a lock for 1st ballot induction. 

Here is a list of the 16 players....

I put asterisks (*) next to the HGH/steroid guys, while I placed upper arrows (^) next to guys connected with Coors Field.

Larry Walker, by the way batted .313 during his career with 383 HR, so he would be on this list generally speaking -- which would place him 7th on this list, 3rd among non-HGH guys.

It should be noted that Dick Allen is the only player not to debut in 1980 or later on this list.

Simba's Pride

It was announced on the evening of December 8th, that Baseball Hall of Fame's "Modern Era" committee elected catcher Ted Simmons, along with MLB Players Association executive director Marvin Miller, to join the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of course, this got some baseball fans riled up when they heard that Simmons will be joining the Hall, going as far as saying that the curse of Harold Baines continues. Baines has been a lightning rod in discussions and debates when it comes down to his Hall of Fame merits. For me, it should not have been a surprise that Simmons name was called, since he only missed the Hall by a single vote, the last time the committee met.

The fact of the matter is that Simmons belongs. Simmons ranked 2nd all-time among catchers in hits (2,472), RBI (1,389) & doubles (483). Simmons also batted a lifetime .289 with a .785 OPS (.348 on-base percentage), to go along with 8 All-Star Game appearances.

Comparing Simmons to Gary Carter was another telling tale:


  • Gary Carter: 2,092 hits, .262 BA, 324 HR, 1,225 RBI (.335 OBP / .439 SLG / .773 OPS).
  • Ted Simmons: 2,472 hits, .285 BA, 248 HR, 1,389 RBI (.348 OBP / .437 SLG / .785 OPS).
Carter played in 285 more games than Simmons, and only beat Simmons in two of the above offensive categories, homer runs (+76) & by literally a hair with .002+ higher slugging percentage.


Many people speak harshly about Simmons' defense, but they were thinking more of his later years when he slowed down. This has also been brought up in Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract
  • Gary Carter: .991 fielding pct, 1,203 assists, 35% caught stealing, with 121 errors & 1,498 stolen bases allowed.
  • Ted Simmons: .987 fielding pct, 915 assists, 34% caught stealing, with 130 errors & 1,188 stolen bases allowed.
Carter and Simmons' defensive numbers were closer than I think most people even realized. Carter had close to 300 more assists, but Carter had more games behind the plate (2,056 to 1,771), so it's safe to say the assists are neck-to-neck, just as the case is with the caught stealing percentages (35% to 34%). Simmons did commit 9 more errors behind the plate, Simmons was sloppier at the other positions comparably to Carter at other positions. Simmons though, had 310 less stolen bases allowed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

1993 N.L. Championship Series Replay (Game 5)

Avery needed to be on top of his game in Game 5.
The Atlanta Braves avoided the sweep with a 10-9 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4, now they play the series one game at a time.


On the mound: The Phillies will send Curt Schilling (Grade C-XZ) out to the mound. Schilling, the last time out, pitched a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts against Atlanta, now we'll see if he can close out Atlanta on their home turf. Meanwhile, the Braves will send out Steve Avery (Grade B-YZ) to keep the dream alive.

Top of the 2nd: After Jeff Blauser boots a grounder with Darren Daulton reaching safely on an error, Pete Incaviglia makes the Braves pay with a two-run blast to left. Incaviglia now has 3 home runs this series.

Bottom of the 2nd: Fred McGriff hits his 4th HR of the series, a solo home run to right, cutting Philly's lead in half.

Bottom of the 3rd & 4th: Curt Schilling strikes out the side in the 3rd inning -- Steve Avery, Otis Nixon & Jeff Blauser. Schilling would strike out Fred McGriff & David Justice, back-to-back in the 4th inning, giving him 5 K's early on, with his only mistake being the McGriff home run back in the 2nd inning.

Bottom of the 6th: Otis Nixon leads off with a single, then steals second base. Jeff Blauser grounds out to second, while Nixon advances to third. Ron Gant, who had a big game in Game 4, grounds out [52-27] to third, while Nixon stays put. Fred McGriff pops up for 3rd out, Phillies still lead, 2-1.

Top of the 7th: Steve Avery has now pitched 5 scoreless innings since two-run homer by Pete Incaviglia, while striking out 3 of the last 6 batters.

Bottom of the 8th: The Phillies go to the pen, calling on reliever David West (Grade A*-XYW), while the Braves call on Sid Bream to pinch-hit in place of the pitcher (Bream strikes out). Jeff Blauser keeps 8th alive with two-out walk, but Ron Gant strikes out. The Phillies are three outs away from wrapping up the series.

Top of the 9th: The Braves' reliever Steve Bedrosian (Grade A&C*-YZ) walks the lead-off man in Kevin Stocker. Phillies' Jim Eisenreich hitting for the pitcher, flies out. Lenny Dykstra grounds out, while Stocker advances to second. The Phillies go to the bench and select Ricky Jordan to pinch-hit for Mariano Duncan, [42-22] Stocker steals third. Jordan grounds out to third though, for the 3rd out, stranding the insurance run at third.

Bottom of the 9th: The Phillies call on their wild closer Mitch Williams (Grade B*-XW) to face McGriff, Justice & Pendleton. Fred McGriff leads off with a single to center [15-10]. The fans are starting to make some noise, while the tomahawk chop is getting going...  Williams sets, delivers, David Justice smacks this one down the line in left, into the corner in left, ricochets off the wall, McGriff scores, the rolling to the right, Pete Incaviglia finally gets to it, while Justice slides into third!

Phillies fans have got to be wondering why Incaviglia was still playing left, but the Phillies pay the price, while the winning run is now on third for Terry Pendleton, who already has two doubles for the night. To be honest, maybe they could have avoided allowing a triple with a better fielder, but one thing is for sure, that's all on Williams, you can't be leaving that in the zone, he's lucky Justice didn't get all of that. The Phillies' pitching coach Johnny Podres is out there trying to settle down Mitch.

Everyone is back in their positions...
Williams delivers, Pendleton hits this one past Morandini! This one is over! The Braves win, as they force a Game 6! 

We will see you all back in Philadelphia for Game 6, as the Braves will now have their ace Greg Maddux on the mound.

Friday, December 6, 2019

1993 N.L. Championship Series Replay (Games 3-4)

The Atlanta Braves find themselves down, 2-0 in the series, while their lineup has only totaled 5 hits this series. The Phillies' John Kruk has been on fire, batting 6-for-7, with a walk, 3 RBI, 2 runs & a stolen base, while it was Curt Schilling who pitched a Game 1 one-hit gem of a shutout, with 10 strikeouts to boot. 
Atlanta will now have to battle back in Games 3 & Game 4 if they want to get back into this series --Thank god! They have Tom Glavine & John Smoltz ready to pitch in these upcoming, must-win outings.


On the mound: Terry Mulholland (Grade B-YZ) for Philadelphia vs Tom Glavine (Grade B) for Atlanta, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.

Top of the 1st: Lenny Dykstra draws a lead-off walk. With one out, John Kruk smacks a single to right center [15-10], steals second. After a Dave Hollins strikeout, Darren Daulton clears the bases with a two-run double [33-0, 51-6]

This game will be about missed dice rolls or calling the wrong plays on the wrong dice rolls, during the bottom of the 2nd, with a runner on 1st, I call on the Braves' pitcher Tom Glavine to sacrifice bunt, which normally is the right call... how was I suppose to know that he would roll an 11-7, which would have been a single, moving the base runner to third -- Instead, it's a sac bunt, moving runner to second with 2 outs.

Top of the 4th: After a one-out single by Darren Daulton (his 2nd hit of the game), Pete Incaviglia gives Philly a huge lead with a two-run shot off of Tom Glavine, making it 4-0, Phillies lead. The Atlanta crowd is dead silent.

Bottom of the 5th: Lead-off double by David Justice [33-4]. The Braves call on their bench in Francisco Cabrera, and flies out to center [34-31, just missed rolling a 33-5, which would have resulted in a two-run homer]. With 2 outs, the Braves call on Sid Bream to pinch-hit for Tom Glavine, with a runner on 3rd, but strikes out. Greg Olson comes into the game to take place for catcher Damon Berryhill, Deion Sanders will take over in center, while the Braves will call on reliever Kent Mercker

Top of the 6th: Darren Daulton [11-0, 33-1] hits a two-out solo home run off Kent Merker, giving him a single, double & homer in 3 at-bats so far, along with 3 RBI. Phillies extend the lead to 5 runs.

Bottom of the 6th: With a runner on 3rd & 2 outs (Deion Sanders - single), Fred McGriff [rolls a 44-8 vs Grade B-YZ] flies out to right. 

Earlier that half-inning, I decided to go for a hit-and-run with Jeff Blauser up & Sanders on 1st, rolling a 31-9, which resulted in a ground out, with the runner advancing to 2nd... versus 31-9 regular result of, infield hit, runner to second.

Bottom of the 7th: Braves catcher Greg Olson hits into inning-ending double play, giving Terry Mulholland 7 shutout innings [Grade Advancement to A-YZ].

Bottom of the 9th: Fred McGriff breaks up Terry Mulholland's shutout bid, with a solo home run to right. The home run was McGriff's 2nd HR of the series.

The Phillies take a strong control of this series, and are on the verge of a sweep. Mulholland is the 2nd Phillies pitcher this series to pitch a complete game. The Braves have only totaled 9 hits, averaging 3 hits per game. John Kruk is batting .727 this series (8-for-11 with 3 RBI, 3 runs & 2 stolen bases. Darren Daulton fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle, while logging 3 RBI & 2 runs.


On the mound: Danny Jackson (Grade C) will pitch for the Phillies in the possible series-clinching win, against John Smoltz (Grade B-X) for Atlanta. We are at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in front of 52,032 fans.

Top of the 2nd: The Phillies start off the inning with back-to-back doubles by Dave Hollins and Darren Daulton (the latter leading to a RBI). With one out, two batters later, Milt Thompson has himself his 1st hit of the series, driving in Daulton, to give Philly, a early 2-0 lead. Kevin Stocker's single, the Phillies' 4th hit of the inning off John Smoltz, plus Mark Lemke's fielding error (on a ball hit by pitcher Danny Jackson) would lead to the bases being loaded. Lenny Dykstra would draw a bases loaded walk. After striking out Mickey Morandini for the 2nd out, Smoltz would allow another bases loaded RBI walk, this time to John Kruk. Dave Hollins would ground out to Smoltz on the mound to stop the bleeding. 

Phillies lead 4-0, the Braves in fact have never led at any point in the series up to this point, and are in a big hole right from the start.

Bottom of the 2nd: The Braves had to do something drastic, down 4-0, with bases loaded, thanks to a Terry Pendleton walk, Dave Justice single & Mark Lemke walk. The Braves called on pinch-hitter Bill Pecota to hit for John Smoltz, the team only had one out, but couldn't afford for Smoltz to hit into an inning-ending double play or the Braves coming up with nothing at all. Pecota would come through with a sac fly, cutting the lead down to 3 runs (trailing 4-1).

Smoltz would only pitch 2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 4 earned runs & two costly walks through 2 innings, while striking out 3 Phillies. The Braves go to Kent Mercker (Grade B*-XW) in hoping to avoid any more runs.

Bottom of the 3rd: Two outs, Fred McGriff hits a ball to shortstop Kevin Stocker, in which he bobbles the grounder, McGriff is safe on the error. Terry Pendleton hits a single to center, while McGriff advances to third. David Justice would make Danny Jackson pay on a mistake pitch, as Justice sends it over the left field fence at Fulton-County, to tie the game up at 4-4.

Top of the 4th: Kevin Stocker leads off the inning with a single off of reliever Kent Mercker, in for his 2nd inning of work. The Phillies call on Kim Batiste to pinch-hit for pitcher Danny Jackson. Batiste flies out, while Dykstra grounding out advanced the base runner to second. Mickey Morandini comes through with an RBI single to give the Phillies, a 5-4 lead, but was then foolish by being picked off first base by Mercker. 

Roger Mason (Grade C*-Y) will come in to pitch for the Phillies, for his first action of the series.

Bottom of the 4th: Lead-off single by Mark Lemke. Braves call on Francisco Cabrera to pinch-hit for Mercker, hoping for a two-run blast, but instead he hits into a double play. Cabrera had a 11-5, 33-5 & 66-1 single column card. Otis Nixon hits a single, while Jeff Blauser follows with a single, advancing Nixon to third, Blauser then steals second. Two outs, two balls & two strikes on Ron Gant -- Gant smacks a single to right [55-8], driving in both runners, and giving Atlanta their first lead of the entire series! The Braves keep it coming with a two-run homer by Fred McGriff, his 3rd of the series.

The Phillies will have to go to the pen again, they were hoping Mason would at least go two innings, but he obviously doesn't have his stuff. The Phillies call on Mike Williams to face Terry Pendleton, and gets Pendleton to end the nightmare of an inning for Philadelphia. Braves lead 8-5.

The Braves call on Marvin Freeman (Grade D*-X) to pitch the 5th inning.

Top of the 5th: John Kruk leads the inning off with a double [11-0, 61-6]. Dave Hollins draws a walk. Darren Daulton hits an infield fly, no one advances, one out. Jim Eisenreich hits a single to left, scoring in Kruk, while Hollins advances to third. 1st & 3rd for Milt Thompson, strikes out. Kevin Stocker steps up to the plate with 2 outs, the Braves elect for Freeman to intentionally walking Stocker to face the pitcher. 

The Phillies manager Jim Fregosi elects to pinch-hit for the pitcher Mike Williams, calling on Wes Chamberlain; Braves' manager Bobby Cox counters with reliever Jay Howell (Grade A*-YZ) coming in to relieve Freeman. Howell delivers, Chamberlain flies to left for final out of the inning. The Phillies trim Atlanta's lead down to 2 runs though.

Bottom of the 5th: Ben Rivera (Grade C-YW) gets his first appearance of the National League Championship Series, while retiring the side.

Top of the 6th: With Jay Howell still on the mound for the Braves, Lenny Dykstra leads off the inning with a solo home run over the right field fence [22-0, 15-1]. Phillies now trail, 8-7.

Bottom of the 6th: The Braves keep their pitcher Jay Howell in, allowing him to hit. Howell would hit a fly ball to center in which Dykstra must have lost the ball in the lights, as the ball drops, call that an E-8! Otis Nixon does Dykstra a favor though & hits into a double play. Blauser flies out to finish 6th.

Top of the 7th: Reliever Jay Howell, who has had a few two-inning performances during the season will get one more inning of work (if possible) for Atlanta. Howell walks the lead-off hitter Darren Daulton, but gets Jim Eisenreich to strike out & Milt Thompson to ground out. Howell then plunks Kevin Stocker with a pitch. Runners on 1st & 2nd, 2 outs, and down only 8-7, the Phillies will have catcher Todd Pratt pinch-hit for the pitcher Ben Rivera. The Braves will have to stick with Howell, as they don't have too many options and are not sure how long this game could go.

Make or break pitch for Howell, Pratt sends it to left center, it's off the wall, Daulton scores, Ron Gant throws it to home, and Stocker will score! The Phillies have reclaimed the lead, it's now 9-8!

The Braves would get out of eventually, but the damage has been done. The Phillies are 9 outs away from a sweep, and they are now calling on their best bullpen arms. Larry Andersen (Grade B*-XY) will be pitching the during the bottom of the 7th. 

Bottom of the 7th: The Braves' Ron Gant leads off with a single to right. Fred McGriff flies out for out number one. Braves call on hit-and-run, and Terry Pendleton executes it perfectly [34-31], advancing Gant to third. David Justice strikes out for the second out. Braves call on pinch-hitter Sid Bream in place of catcher Greg Olson. Sid Bream hits it to center [15-10], drives in Gant, but Pendleton is thrown out at third on the throw from Lenny Dykstra in center. Game tied up at 9-9.

Top of the 8th: With two outs, Darren Daulton puts a scare into Braves reliever Steve Bedrosian (Grade A&C*-YZ) with a double [22-0, 24-6]. Only for Jim Eisenreich to come up empty, by grounding out to short. 

Bottom of the 8th: The Phillies go with Larry Andersen another inning, saving David West for later if need be. With one out, the Braves' Rafael Belliard came in to pinch-hit for Bedrosian, and hits a single to right [25-9]. Otis Nixon draws a walk [35-14], runners on 1st & 2nd. Jeff Blauser flies out to center with no runners advancing, two outs. Ron Gant continues to rake in this game, smacking RBI single over second, stealing second, with Nixon on third; Gant has 3 hits & 3 RBI in this one. 

The Phillies finally call on reliever David West, who hits a fly out to end the inning.

Top of the 9th: Greg McMichael (Grade A*-X) will try to close things out for Atlanta. With two outs, the Phillies call on Pete Incaviglia (2 HR this series) to hit for the pitcher, but fouls out behind the plate [65-35].

The Braves really had to work hard for this victory, but still need to pull out three straight to win this series. The Braves' bats finally came alive, but most of that may have had a little to do with that there was no pitching on either side in an ugly, see-saw battle in Game 4. 

One game at a time.

1993 N.L. Championship Series Replay (Games 1-2)

My 1993 National League Championship Series Replay...


On the mound: Steve Avery (Grade B-YZ) for Atlanta vs Curt Schilling (Grade C-XZ) for Philadelphia, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

Bottom of the 1st: Second baseman Mariano Duncan draws a one-out walk. John Kruk follows with a single to right center (steals second). With two strikes, Dave Hollins works the count to a walk, to load the bases. Suddenly in trouble early, Avery has to pitch to the dangerous Darren Daulton, but Daulton would ground into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

Top of the 2nd: Curt Schilling strikes out the side in Fred McGriff, Dave Justice, and Terry Pendleton, giving Schilling 4 K's early on... This could be a long night for Atlanta, if this is any indication for things to come.

Top of the 3rd: Mark Lemke draws a one-out walk. Steve Avery up at bat, Lemke advances on a passed ball to second. Avery bats Lemke over to third for the 2nd out. Otis Nixon draws a walk. With runners on the corners, the Braves elect to hit-and-run with Jeff Blauser at the plate, Nixon is off and running, but is thrown out trying to steal second, on a solid throw by Darren Daulton. [Blauser rolled a 13-14, which if I did not elect to hit-and-run, would have drawn Atlanta's 3rd walk of the inning, with Gant up to the plate].

Top of the 5th: Damon Berryhill breaks up Curt Schilling's early no-hit bid with one out. Mark Lemke draws his 2nd walk of the day [rolling back-to-back, 14 results, which resulted in a walk against Schilling's Z control rating]. Runners on 1st & 2nd for the Braves' pitcher Steve Avery at the plate, Avery lays down a sac bunt, to advance the runners to 2nd & 3rd, 2 outs. Otis Nixon [rolls a 51-10] flying out to Lenny Dykstra for final out. Score remains, zero apiece.

Top of the 6th: With Ron Gant on second (due to a walk & advancing to 2nd on a groundout), Dave Justice has a chance to do some damage, but flies out center [Curt Schilling has pitched 6 shutout innings & advances to a Grade B-XZ].

Bottom of the 6th: Lead-off single by Lenny Dykstra. Mariano Duncan hits a double [66-0, 63-6] off Avery, scoring in Dykstra, for the game's first run. John Kruk makes it back-to-back RBI doubles [33-0, 62-6], 2-0, Phillies lead. Dave Hollins flies to right, for 1st out, no advancement by Kruk. Darren Daulton grounds it to the pitcher [44-8] , pitcher tosses over to first for the 2nd out, while Kruk moves on over to third. Pete Incaviglia [22-6, single column card] hits a two-run homer off Avery, for the nail in Avery's coffin. Braves Manager Bobby Cox has seen enough, and will go to the pen. Reliever Marvin Freeman stops the bleeding as Wes Chamberlain grounds out to second. Phillies lead 4-0.

Top of the 7th: Curt Schilling strikes out Mark Lemke to retire the side, recording his 7th strikeout of the game [Schilling advances to Grade A-XZ with 7 shutout innings].

Curt Schilling goes on to pitch a one-hit, 10 K gem, shutting out the Braves, while allowing 4 walks. The Braves' Steve Avery gets the loss, allowing 6 hits, 4 earned runs & 3 walks in 5.2 innings. John Kruk collects 3 hits, including a RBI double, run & stolen base. Mariano Duncan drew 2 walks, while also having an RBI double.


On the mound: N.L. Cy Young favorite Greg Maddux (Grade A-YZ) for Atlanta vs Tommy Greene (Grade B-X) for Philadelphia, at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia. Phillies lead series, 1-0.

1st Inning: Both teams squander chances. Atlanta led off 1st with a single & stolen base by Otis Nixon, with Jeff Blauser drawing a walk on the next at-bat, but two infield flies with no runners advancing & a fielder's choice at second later, the Braves came up empty. Philadelphia with 2 outs, draw back-to-back walks (a rarity) against such a great control artist like Maddux, but Darren Daulton would come up empty at the plate to capitalize on the opportunity.

Bottom of the 3rd: The Phillies' Lenny Dykstra leads off with a single & stolen base [33-0, 34-11]. Mickey Morandini flies to right, Dykstra advances to third. John Kruk singles to left, Dykstra scores, Kruk advances to second on wild throw by Ron Gant. Phillies lead 1-0.

Top of the 4th: David Justice with two outs, hits a solo home run off of Tommy Greene to give Atlanta's first run of the series, tying the game at 1-1.

Bottom of the 5th: Mickey Morandini draws a one-out walk. John Kruk smacks and RBI double over first [35-14, 2 balls... 11-0, 56-6], giving Philly back the lead, 2-1. Dave Hollins draws a walk (4th walk by Maddux). Runners on 1st & 2nd, Darren Daulton grounds out, advancing the runners to 2nd & 3rd. Jim Eisenreich connects on a big single to right [25-8 vs Grade A, 2nd & 3rd], scoring both runners, making the game, 4-1 Philadelphia! Milt Thompson strikes out for the 3rd time ending the big inning.

Top of the 6th: Fred McGriff does his best to keep the Braves in the game, hitting a two-out solo homer off of Greene. Braves trail 4-2.

Top of the 7th: The Phillies went to the pen prior to the inning, with Larry Andersen toeing the rubber; Phillies pinch-hit for Greene during the bottom of the 6th with Wes Chamberlain. Andersen (Grade B*-XY) strikes out the side in Terry Pendleton, Damon Berryhill & Mark Lemke.

Bottom of the 7th: The Braves stay with Greg Maddux for one more inning. Maddux rewards manager Bobby Cox' faith with 3 strikeouts in the inning, although giving up a 3rd hit in the game to John Kruk.

Kruk has 6 hits during the first 2 games of the 1993 NLCS.
Top of the 8th: Jeff Blauser hits a single off reliever David West with two outs, steals second [33-0, 52-11]. Ron Gant ends the possible threat by grounding out.

Top of the 9th: Phillies' closer Mitch Williams, 'The Wild Thing', retires the side, by getting pinch-hitter Bill Pecota to fly out for the final out.

Phillies lead the series, 2-0. When asked if he thought home plate umpire Frank Pulli was squeezing him on some possible strike calls, Greg Maddux said "I don't have much to say on the matter, we are the ones that lost the game. I think we'll be good to go once we are back in front of our home crowd."

It should be mentioned that Pulli was once placed on probation by former commissioner Fay Vincent for placing bets on non-baseball sporting events, along with umpire Rich Garcia back in 1989.

The Atlanta Braves have totaled only 5 hits in the first 2 games of the series (combined), while the Phillies' John Kruk alone has 6 hits through 7 at-bats this series, along with a BB & 3 RBI.

Atlanta will have to find their stride in Atlanta, as their postseason fate weighs on Tom Glavine & John Smoltz the next two games.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

1993 NLCS Replay & 'What If' 93' World Series

So this December, I have decided to take it easy, take in the holidays, and just do random quick fun APBA projects to play. I was kicking around the idea of playing the 1982 World Series ('The Suds Series' - Battle of the beer towns).

Then the morning after Thanksgiving, in the early hours of Friday, I was sitting back with a snack and watching the MLB Network. I fell upon the final minutes of 'Eight Men Out', followed by the Johnny Bench story, Tony Gwynn story & the 1990's Atlanta Braves story. I figured God must have been telling me to take it easy, I knew he knew that I was watching the MLB Network in those wee hours since he put Tony Gwynn (my favorite player) and the 1990's Braves, as back-to-back shows...

He was like "Take it easy man, you've been doing a lot the last few months."

The last few months will be detailed more in this upcoming post on "Thankful for my APBA family", but to put it shortly, my wife had bronchitis in early August, which x-rays revealed a small, mysterious growth in her right lung. Since then, she has had the operation to remove the tumor, which it, along with one of her 17 lymph nodes removed, turned out to be cancerous. The surgeon and oncologist both agree that she is now 100% cancer-free, which of course was excellent news!

Things are getting back to normal somewhat with her recovering from the operation (she is really sore right now), with her hoping to be back by January 2nd to work. With all the runs to the hospital (she was in there for 10 days), the housework, errands & working full-time -- God, wants me now to just relax. He also knows that I want to get into my more-involved projects, but he believes that shorter, fun projects like series replays and what if series may be what's in store for December.

So I listened...

Influenced by the Braves special on television, I decided to replay the 1993 National League Championship Series and do a "What If" World Series between the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays and 1993 Atlanta Braves. So it will be a chance for the Braves to get twice the redemption, getting revenge on the Phillies for being a roadblock to the 1993 Fall Classic, while the Braves can get revenge on the Blue Jays for the 1992 World Series.

In real life, the 1993 NLCS was decided by 1 run in three of the six games, while the Phillies would win 2 of those games in extras, both in the 10th inning, and both by the score of 4-3. The Atlanta Braves had a 2-1 series lead, with John Smoltz prepared to pitch Game 4 in Atlanta, with another game in Atlanta to follow. I remember as a fan of those Braves, thinking Atlanta should have this one with Smoltzie on the mound, but it was never mean't to be.

The replay will be played with the Basic APBA Baseball boards, along with the APBA Baseball Error Card and Unusual Play Card (from the APBA Journal). Along with actual lineups and game starters, and home locations.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Big Bang Theory

Just following the Glass City APBA Baseball Tournament, my friend Ron Emch sent an email to the guys who all attended the tournament, spreading the word about my blog. He also spread the word about The APBA Blog, which was created by my friend Thomas Nelshoppen.

It was Nelsphoppen's The APBA Blog that inspired me to do my blog, The Boys of Summer. It was Nelshoppen's word of mouth with his blog, that helped promote the 2nd Chicagoland APBA Baseball Tournament, along with an interview with co-created Doug Schuyler.

Recently, Tom shared pictures of that tournament from 6 years ago, and I repeated what I repeated in that email to Ron & the Toledo gang, that I felt the 2013 (Fall Edition) of the Chicagoland tournament really was APBA's big bang that kicked off the APBA Tournament movement.

This was the email, I sent back to Ron & the Toledo gang, a few months back.

For those that don't know, I just really love blogging about all the APBA projects in my life, and sharing my love for the game. I also write about Out of the Park Baseball, and of course, MLB Baseball, as well as Hall of Fame debates, and all the interesting aspects of the game itself.

I believe it was late 2012, I was not happy with my job, and I was frustrated with all the politics (election year) that summer, and that's when I fell upon Thomas Nelshoppen's 'The APBA Blog' and Kenneth Heard's 'Love, Life and APBA Baseball'. I was happy to see that there was a big APBA community out there, bigger than I could have ever imagined. Their blogs are what inspired 'The Boys of Summer'.

I also found the APBA Facebook Group late that year, or at about the turn of the calendar to 2013. Through that group, I developed friendships with numerous APBA junkies such as myself. One of the friends that I met through that group, was Pastor Rich Zawadzki. We would both sign up for our very first APBA Baseball Tournament during November 2013 -- The APBA Chicagoland Tournament. I rode down to Kalamazoo on a bus, stayed the Friday night in the hotel. The next following morning (early hours, maybe 4 am), Rich (coming from Jackson, out east) came by the hotel in Kalamazoo, picked me up, and we were off to Chicago.

That particular tournament, I feel may have been the spark that fueled the APBA community. At that time, we didn't realize it, but a big bang reaction was taking place. This was the 2nd Chicagoland tournament, but really in many ways was the first one. The first actual one, happened the summer prior with 11 contestants, and it was through the APBA Facebook GroupThe APBA Blog & I want to say, Jim's APBA Barn (another great blog, by the way) that helped advertise the fall edition that Rich and I would go to. 

The tournament took place in a gathering room, located a small library in the cozy town of Woodstock, Illinois (the same town that Bill Murray's Groundhog Day was filmed). There was about 24 of us, we played 6 games in our brackets, 2 games against the 3 teams, in each division.

I had the 1912 New York Giants, and had to battle the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics1976 Cincinnati Reds & the 1998 New York Yankees. I believe for all of us, we can all look at any one of those games, and wonder if a play here or there bounced this way, it would be me, or him or so-and-so moving on to the playoffs. I got swept by Cincy, then won the first game against then-Chicagoland Tourney runner Doug Schuyler's 1998 Yankees... It was the 2nd game of that series, that really decided my team's fate. He had Shane Spencer coming up to the plate, he had a runner on, and I want to say it was the 7th inning (it was definitely late into the game), I was leading by a couple runs.... So I decided to do the logical thing, intentionally walk that monster card, and take my chances with Homer Bush (who, yes batted .340 or something, but had no pop).... Homer Bush, of course, hit a three-run homer to give the Yanks the lead & eventually the game. Doug won our division with a 4-2 record, I was 3-3 along with Tom Johnson's Reds, and Gary Lindley's 31' A's finished 2-4 (I swept him).

The experience was amazing, the first tournament always stands out, win or lose. The experience had me craving for more, while it inspired Rich to start up the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament in March 2015. The Schulz brothers (Ken & Darren) would go to the GMABT and Chicagoland Tournaments in the future, which then created the Pittsburgh tournament, the Linda B. Schulz APBA Baseball Tournament (LBS), named after their late mother.

It should be noted that Johnson would return years later to win a Chicagoland Tournament, while Lindley I believe either won the next summer tournament (or summer after that). I would go on to win the 2016 Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament with the 1993 Atlanta Braves, which of course, is an interesting experience in itself.

It was through the Greater Michigan APBA Tournaments, that I met Ron Emch, our gracious host to the Glass City APBA Baseballl Tournament. I had the 1917 Chicago White Sox, and I want to say that he had the 1954 New York Giants (I could have it wrong, we had the 1962 Giants in our bracket as well), and I believe we split 1-1. Ron would go onto the playoffs, and although neither one of us won it that day, it was a start of our friendship. As some of you might know, Rich and his son draw the names of the teams out of a hat for the division matchups.... Ron and I, would have the privilege of playing each other in opening division play for the first 3 years of the tournament's existence, which was pretty cool. We were just chatting in Toledo, about our two teams (the 1993 Braves & 1998 Braves) in GMABT II, going head-to-head with each of us pitching Greg Maddux against one another. 

I am just glad I finally got to make it to my friend's tournament finally, and now that I have, I plan to come to this one year-after-year. I also plan to eventually make it to the Twin Cities & the Pittsburgh tourneys as well.

It's things like that, and through these tournaments that we build memories on top of the older memories. It only gets better as friendships build up, while you get to meet new people through these tournaments as well, while I now look forward to building on these friendships as well. I really do think we have a great APBA community, and I really love writing about this game, and the people that I meet along the way.

It was a pleasure meeting everyone, and to many more tournaments ahead.

Shawn Baier
Traverse City, Michigan

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Big Cat, Tiny Cat

We are in month #2 of the 2019 UAL (Ultimate APBA League) Season, and my Traverse City Fighting Tigers played worst than they did in October. The Fighting Tigers went 9-21 for the month of October, while they just went 4-11 at home for me in November. We also got the results back from their road series against the North Georgia Bravos, in which they went 1-4... So of all the reported games, Traverse City is 14-36 (.280), while on pace for 45 wins.

We knew it would be bad, we feel we can play better than the .280 clip. We play with games limits for position players, so I am getting the rest time in early in the season, so the lineups should be doing better as the season goes on.

So I knew going into the season that I was going to take my lumps. We lost two B starters from last season, who have no-cards for this season (due to injury) in Jimmy Nelson & Taijuan Walker. We had a couple starters also downgraded a grade from last season, while the bullpen went from plenty of B's & A's to all D's and a couple C's. Plus my two team captains in Jose Altuve and Buster Posey missed a good handful of games due to 2018 MLB season injuries as well.

So knowing all that, I didn't expect to have my dice go ice-cold for my favorite hitter in the game in Jose 'Gigante' Altuve. I knew he didn't have a great 1st series playing the Ohio Cougars, players slump from time to time, but I didn't expect things to get worse.

After batting .133 against Ohio, Altuve batted only .109 with a .333 OPS against the Massillon Big Cats. To make matters worse, Massillon's catcher Austin Romine out-played him, not only that series, but Romine's series totals dwarfed Altuve's offensive home numbers for the month of November.

Romine accomplished more in 5 games than Altuve did in 15 games, here are the numbers...

  • Romine: 10-for-19 (.526), HR, 7 RBI (.571 OBP / 1.414 OPS) - Romine had a game that he went 5-for-5, all singles with 3 RBI.
  • Altuve: 8-for-52 (.154), 0 HR & 6 RBI - Altuve recorded 4 of those 6 RBI, his last 2 games of the month, while collecting 4 hits that series. His best OPS output was .611 against N.G.

The troubling thing is, Altuve didn't do absolutely great in his 1st month of home games with me as well, I believe he batted .273 for me, with a .767 OPS. 

Last season, Altuve batted .423 for me at home, with a .476 OBP & 1.083 OPS. He led the league in batting (.352), hits (221), runs (221) & stolen bases (48), while posting a .946 OPS.

We all know through APBA Season Replays, League Play, APBA Tournaments, or in real life, how little players like Austin Romine can come up big, while big players such as Jose Altuve can come up short...

That's one of the beauties of baseball.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2020 Preseason (OOTP 20)

  • The Yankees acquired SP-Robbie Erlin and minor league CF-Jawuan Harris from the Padres in exchange for top prospect CF-Estevan Florial and minor league 2B-Kyle Gray.
  • Red Sox signed RP-Alex Colome to a 1-year deal worth $2.6 million.
  • The Tigers sign SS-Jose Iglesias to a 6-year deal worth $42.6 million ($7,100,000 per year).
  • The Twins reacquired SP-Lance Lynn from the Rangers in exchange for IF-Ehire Adrianza and prospect RHP-Brusdar Graterol.
  • The Reds signed 2B-Brian Dozier to a 3-year deal worth $31.4 million.
  • Cole Hamels signed a 3-year deal with the Angels for $8,333,333 per season.
  • Long-time Yankee Brett Gardner signs with the Giants for $25.4 million over 2 years.
  • Phillies pay hefty on a one-year rental in 3B-David Freese for $17.4 million.
  • As predicted, Brian McCann retired with the Atlanta Braves.
  • The Blue Jays signed 1B/3B-Matt Carpenter to a 4-year deal worth $41.2 million.
  • Milwaukee resigned 3B-Mike Moustakas in a 6-year deal worth $102.4 million ($17.1 million per year).
  • Craig Kimbrel wants to get the Athletics over the playoff hump, signing a 2-year deal worth $8.08 million.
  • Edwin Encarnacion will be perching the parrot in Boston at $36.9 million over 3 years.
  • The Rays traded SP-Ryan Yarbrough to the Mariners in exchange for C-Tom Murphy, who is coming off a career year in which he hit 18 home runs. Not a bad deal for Tampa considering they plan on plugging both Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell (who are both healthy) in this upcoming 2020 MLB season... making it one of the youngest dynamic rotations with Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell & headed by veteran Charlie Morton.
  • The Twins traded OF-Max Kepler to the Angels in exchange for 2B-David Fletcher and 19 year-old minor league RHP Jack Kochanowicz
  • Angels signed 3B-Todd Frazier to a 2-year deal worth $17.4 million.
  • Tigers claimed P-Albert Abreu from the Yankees, named #54 top prospect in baseball.
  • Baltimore Orioles mourned the passing of owner Peter Angelos.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers came out with new logos and new uniforms for upcoming 2020 MLB Season. 
Hall of Fame News
  • Derek Jeter (93.4% / 1st year) and Curt Schilling (81.6% / 8th year) will be the newest members of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. 
  • The most shocking news may be Larry Walker being dropped from the ballot (10th year), while coming so close at 65.6% of the ballots. Barry Bonds (71.3%) and Roger Clemens (68.4%) are sniffing the Hall from the outside (both at 8 years).
Top Prospects
  • Houston's SP-Forrest Whitley tops the list, while Chicago's Andrew Vaughn (#2 overall) was tops among hitters.

Things to come... We'll switch gears soon, we'll be talking about Hall of Fame stuff, the great APBA community, the Houston Astros' legacy & how bad are those Traverse City Fighting Tigers?!?!

Friday, November 15, 2019

2019 Winter Meetings (OOTP 20)

The alternate reality off-season of 2019 in my Out of the Park Baseball 20 continues, let's take a look at more signings and trades involving Major League Baseball.

  • The Braves sign 31 year-old catcher Yasmani Grandal to a lengthy 6-year deal deal worth $130,800,000. Grandal is coming off career highs in HR (27) & RBI (77).
  • The Cubs make a move in the right direction involving their starting pitching by signing Hyun-Jin Ryu to a 4-year deal worth $112 million ($28 mill per year). 
  • The Mariners acquire RP-Kirby Yates from the Padres in exchange for prospects CF-Jarred Kelenic, 1B-Evan White & minor league LF-Keegan McGovern.
  • J.D. Martinez who opted out of his contract with Boston, settles on the Yankees for 4 years & $68,000,000. Martinez in real life, shocked everyone by not opting out of Boston as expected.
  • The Cardinals made a huge splash by signing 3B-Josh Donaldson to a 5-year deal worth $103 million.
  • SP-Dallas Keuchel signed a 4-year deal with the Rockies for $35.6 million.
  • The Yankees who did not offer arbitration to SS-Didi Gregorius, signed him to a new deal worth $17.7 million over 3 years.
  • The Angels take a huge gamble on Madison Bumgarner, considering his recent injuries in recent years, signing him to a 7-year deal worth $104.3 million ($14.9 million per year).
  • The Giants acquired SP-Trevor Bauer from the Reds, in exchange for top prospect OF-Heliot Ramos. The Reds also acquired prospect OF-Kyle Lewis and minor league RP-Freddy Villarreal from Seattle, in exchange for SP-Alex Wood.
  • Boston inks SP-Michael Pineda to 2-year worth $23.8 million.
  • The Angels reacquired SP-Garrett Richards from the Padres for two minor leaguers.
  • The Red Sox acquire 1B Jose A. Martinez from the Cardinals in exchange for RP-Marcus Walden.
  • The Red Sox also paid out a pricey one-year rental on Howie Kendrick ($15.4 million).
  • Catcher Robinson Chirinos returns to the Rangers on a 3-year deal worth $33.9 million.
  • The Rays acquired OF-Starling Marte from the Pirates in exchange for top prospect SP-Shane Baz and minor league 2B-Ford Proctor.
  • The Pirates acquired C/3B-Victor Caratini from the Cubs in exchange for RP-Keone Kela and LHP-Blake Weiman.
  • The Yankees acquired RP-Matt Andriese from the Diamondbacks in exchange for OF-Cameron Maybin.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A-P-B-A or APP-Bah?

I recently posted a meme that I created, using the trending 'Woman Yelling at the Cat' meme, and it of course created plenty of buzz on the APBA Facebook Group. Generating just under 175 likes & 75+ comments at the time of this post, I decided to also break down through the comments, the percentage of what is pronounced more.

Not surprisingly, the majority pronounce it APP-Bah, 68% of the time. I was thinking from the get-go that it had to be at least 2-1 in favor of APP-Bah, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer to 75% if we were to do an overall poll from the 3,000+ members of the APBA Facebook Group.

Even the Wikipedia page for APBA Baseball, mentions the fact that it is pronounced "APP-Bah"...

I was also surprised to find out from one of my good APBA friends, Rob Spatz, who was from the Chicago area, that most of the Chicago APBA crowd, actually pronounces it A-P-B-A, or at least the Chicagoans that he knows.

So with that news, I joked that it is official then, Michigan has to be the capital of APP-Bah Baseball... Just kidding. I do know many in the Michigan thumb that have played, and my dad was part of a 20+ member league, and knew of a couple of the guys from his same school area that had leagues of their own. I know that it was definitely one of the grass roots states that got the company rolling at least in the 1950's that is.

I believe the company sold primarily to the Midwest market, it's pretty obvious when APBA Hall of Famer Dominick Provisiero does his APBA Roll-Call on the site, that an overwhelming amount of us from the Midwest plays the game. Michigan & Illinois leading the charge, and then Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana & Minnesota fall into place. The Midwest has also dominated the sites for the most APBA tournaments being hosted...

  • Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (Jackson, MI)
  • Chicagoland APBA Baseball Tournament (Chicago, IL)
  • Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament (Minnesota)
  • Glass City APBA Baseball Tournament (Toledo/Maumee, OH)
  • Wisconsin APBA Baseball Tournament (Milwaukee area, WI)
  • Praireland APBA Baseball Tournament (Urbana, IL)
  • Furniture City APBA Baceball Tournament (Grand Rapids, MI)
  • Bath City APBA Baseball Tournament (Mt.Clemons, MI)
  • Indy 500 APBA Baseball Tournament (Evansville, IN)

Other APBA hot spots include Pennsylvania (of course, being APBA's birthplace in Lancaster), plus Florida, California, New York... and Virginia. The rest of the country combined prove to be in the minority, with APBA fans sprinkled around outside of the APBA hot zone.

Recently, another APBA friend Shawn Kaufman and I were speaking of local markets that we have actually purchased the game. He mentioned Kay-Bee, I mentioned Toys R' Us (both companies went bankrupt & no longer exist). My brother Chris bought the 1995 Playoff / All-Star APBA Baseball Set off the shelves at the Traverse City Toys R' Us, while I saw that same set & maybe a current season set at a Wal-Mart in Augusta, GA while being stationed down there back in 1997.

The company now resides in Alpharetta, Georgia, the same state the National APBA Convention takes place.

Friday, November 8, 2019

2019 & Beyond (OOTP 20)

I decided to finally do the new Live Feed option for Out of the Park Baseball 20, with up-to-the-date rosters. I should say that I gave it a go after some glitches, and so far it seems to be working properly.

The only thing is that OOTP had the wild card games not done, so I had to simulate them, and the results came up differently with the Milwaukee Brewers defeating the Washington Nationals.

The Tampa Bay Rays would go on to lose their series against the Houston Astros, while the New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins (again, poor Minnesota), 3-2. The Los Angeles Dodgers made sure that Milwaukee didn't keep screwing up reality, by sweeping them 3-0. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, which I can see happening with the way both Jack Flaherty and Dakato Hudson have been pitching this second half.

In the League Championship Series, Astros swept the Yankees on the A.L. side, while the Dodgers were challenged by St. Louis, but would come out triumphant, 4-2, in the National League.

The Houston Astros would go on to win their 2nd World Series in 3 years, defeating the Dodgers in a quick series, 4-1. I have Houston over Dodgers in 6 games.

The reality of the situation is that the Washington Nationals did win their wild card against Milwaukee, came back and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers & Houston Astros. OOTP 20 almost got their overall company simulation of the Astros over Nationals, but the computer doesn't take in strange things like an all-road victories World Series, LOL!

Well, lucky for you, I will share my alternate future with you.

2019 Off-Season News
  • Adam Wainwright (STL) who has been out of action since October 11th with shoulder inflammation is heading to the injured list & will be out for 7 months of action.
  • Zack Greinke (HOU) will be out for 4 months, suffering from arthritic elbow. 
  • Curtis Granderson announced his retirement. 
  • The Detroit Tigers fired manager Ron Gardenhire. An anonymous team source told BNN, "The Tigers have been a rudderless ship for awhile now. Ron didn't seem fully focused on the job, seemed distracted. Something was going on there. We need a guy to step in and really take charge."
Early Transactions
  • The White Sox traded 1B-Jose Abreu to the Nationals, along with minor league LHP-Hector Acosta, in exchange for four minor leaguers in RHP-Sterling Sharp, LHP-Seth Romero, 3B-Gilbert Lara & C-Jakson Reetz
  • The Dodgers traded OF/SS-Chris Taylor to Tampa Bay in exchange for 2B-Brandon Lowe and minor league 1B-Russ Olive.
  • Sounding pretty true to form -- The Tigers traded SP-Michael Fulmer and prospect SP-Alex Faedo to the Astros in exchange for two minor league catchers in Jaime Ritchie and Cesar Salazar
  • The Mariners traded RP-Arodys Vizcaino to the Nationals in exchange for three minor leaguers: RHP-Jake Irvin, RHP-Chandler Day & 3B-Omar Meregildo
  • The Giants trade 'Kung Fu Panda' Pablo Sandoval to the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league RHP Jon Harris and minor league 2B Kevin Smith.
  • The White Sox traded SP-Reynaldo Lopez to the Angels in exchange for SP-Jaime Barria.
  • The Indians acquired CF-Franchy Cordero from the Padres in exchange for minor league 2B- Aaron Bracho and minor league C-Brandon Benavente.
  • The Reds traded C-Curt Casali to the Angels in exchange for CF-Brian Goodwin.
  • The Reds also acquired minor leaguers 2B-Ricardo De La Torre & 2B-Travis Blankenhorn from the Twins, in exchange for RP-Kevin Shackelford.
  • Maybe Shay is right, the "Tankers" (Tigers) trade SP-Daniel Norris to the Giants in exchange for OF-Austin Slater and minor league C-Braden Frankfort... because you know, you can never have enough minor league catchers.
  • The Yankees acquire SS-Aledmys Diaz from the Astros, in exchange for backup catcher Austin Romine and $80,000 in cash.
Award Winners
  • OF-Yordan Alvarez (HOU) wins the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award, while 1B-Pete Alonso wins the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award.
  • Justin Verlander (HOU) won the A.L. Cy Young Award over teammate Gerrit Cole, while Jacob deGrom (NYM) also wins his 2nd Cy Young, by winning the award in the N.L.
  • The Houston sweep continues with Alex Bregman named the A.L. Most Valuable Player.
  • The Brewers' Christian Yelich wins back-to-back N.L. MVP Awards, becoming the 1st N.L. player to win back-to-back awards since Albert Pujols did it with the Cardinals ten years ago.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Early Home Run Paces (1978 A.L. Replay)

We all love playing season replays or team replays or single-player replays, so with that we are quite aware that through APBA, especially early in a season, we can see some alarming home run rates, and other players under-performing as well.

Below is a list of the players that are playing above pace & below pace...

I posted an APBA post recently on the APBA Facebook Group on how in one of the games, Boston elected to pitch around Doug DeCinces by intentionally walking him, and facing Lee May instead. I also mentioned in that same post that DeCinces was currently tied with Oakland's Gary Alexander for the team lead in home runs with 11....That of course, got some heads turning.

The reality of the situation, is that in real life Alexander actually had a great April as well in 1978, even gracing the cover of The Sporting News. Once May came he slowed down, and he's doing the same in my 1978 A.L. Replay. Alexander had 11 HR in the month of April for my replay, but has been quiet since, while his batting average has gone down, while the strikeouts has picked up. Alexander currently leads the A.L. in whiffs at the plate, with 40 in only 100 at-bats!

Another thing that may have caught your eye on the charts above is Cleveland's backup rookie catcher Ron Hassey with 3 home runs, when he only hit 2 HR through 25 games & 74 at-bats. He has only played 4 games & 15 at-bats, but has had luck on his side in the early going, with a 2 home run game against the Seattle Mariners on May 9th. I put 18 with an asterisk in the 'On Pace' column, but obviously he will not hit anything near that, but another HR or maybe two, could happen since the ungodly HR rolls came early for him.

Oakland's Alexander is not the only Athletic enjoying some early success, his teammate Dave Revering has already hit 6 HR, while on pace for 34 HR. Also Gary Thomasson (not shown above on chart) is batting .405 (32-for-79) through 21 games played, with 3 HR & 14 RBI; Thomasson has already over-exceeded his real-life 31 hits with Oakland through 47 games & 154 at-bats (Thomasson will be traded June 15th to the Yankees).

A few Boston stars made the under-performing side of the above chart, in Carlton Fisk & Dwight Evans, while Kansas City's Darrell Porter has done nothing but struggle, with only one dinger, while batting .161 with an OPS barely over .500 early in the season.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Stranger Things

This post was originally supposed to be titled "Called It!", but as the World Series played out, it went from a strange series to even stranger by series end.

For all my readers, it may come as no secret that my favorite player in the game of baseball is Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander. My favorite hitter in the game happens to be Jose Altuve. It was amazing to watch these two get put together in 2017 on their way to a World Series title.

So it should come as no surprise who I am rooting for to win the World Series in 2019.

I have been very vocal in who I want to win the World Series, and why not? Verlander is my favorite player, and I want the very best for him, and I want to see more of his great pitching in 2019 -- So rooting for him is a no-brainer.

I have been confident all year that they would end up representing the American League with a shot at their 2nd World Title in 3 seasons. I was confident that they would beat the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, I knew they would win, and I knew once again (like 2017) that it would be a dog fight.

So when they went down 2-0, I was hearing it from casual fans and haters, that the Astros were done, toast! I'm not going to lie, I felt a little sick to my stomach looking at the 0-2 deficit. This is a team that had been hitting poorly in the postseason, slumping, especially with runners in scoring position. So there was plenty of reason for most baseball fans to say that it was over....

but not me...

Here is a picture of my Facebook post, in the early morning hours of the Astros facing an 0-2 deficit...

My facebook post in early hours, just after Houston being in the series hole, 0-2.

... and for awhile, especially after the Astros won all three in Washington, outscoring them 19-3, I momentarily looked like a genius. I have made great predictions in the past, and just had so much faith in this Astros team that they would pull it off. 

This series has been strange on so many levels, I knew Houston could answer back, it was a matter of time, they have been overall lousy at the plate, and even worse with runners in scoring position... but they were bound to wake up. 

Now defeating Washington, 19-3 over three games?! I would never have expected that, and to be fair most of those runs probably came off the bullpen as the games slipped out of reach, because all those games were fairly close early on & even later.

So when the Astros knotted it up, I posted this meme I made (It only took 2 seconds to make, nothing special) ...

That was in response to what I was hearing after Game 2, but then they evened the series up. 

After Game 5, I couldn't believe all of the whining over the strike zone. It went both ways, although you would never have guessed that with all the Nats fans and Astros haters in full force. 

Here is the thing, I personally don't care for the square on my TV screen, let the umpires ump, it is never going to go to electronic home plate umpires -- so keep dreaming. I am with Mark DeRosa, a former hitter I might add, mentioned "You want the game to go faster, expand the strike zone." That's a good point, although I say let's also start the postseason games no later than 6-6:30 pm E.T. -- like the Super Bowl...

Just saying, you wonder why football is winning & why an entire generation not growing up with your sport. That would definitely be a start in the right direction...

but back to the strike zone, people were making a big deal that Gerrit Cole was benefiting more than Joe Ross from the strike zone. In a lot of ways, he was, because that's what the great, experienced veterans do, they adjust, they keep making the right pitch later, even if they don't get it earlier. Cole's nasty stuff will be harder to call, while Ross' stuff is plain in comparison. 

Another example, although he pitched it down main street is Mark Langston. The San Diego Padres' Langston pitched a ball down the middle to Tino Martinez in the 1998 World Series, and it wasn't called a strike (it definitely should have, but it wasn't), Langston still has a chance to make the adjustment, has a chance to make the right pitch, but then Tino clobbered it to right, and the rest is history.

There is winners such as Gerrit Cole, and then there are losers like Mark Langston. The difference between a winner & loser, is making the right pitch, and the timely pitch. Joe Ross put on a good face, knew he wasn't the first choice going out to the mound that day (due to Max Scherzer being scratched from the start), his fans gave him the support he needed....

but he was at a huge mismatch from the start, he was up against Cole. The sad truth is that you could add Joe's brother Tyson to the equation, and you might, might have a decent starting pitcher... I know that's harsh, but just trying to make people understand how much Ross was in over his head, and to be honest I thought he did as great as job as he possibly could.

Cole put Houston up 3-2, but his number would not be called again.
I also want to be on record that balls and strikes have never decided a series. Miscalls at first base (Jorge Orta safe at first, 1985)? Definitely. First basemen physically pulling off baserunners (Kent Hrbek & Ron Gant)? Sure... and managers pulling pitchers (Matt Williams pulling Jordan Zimmermann) too early? Well, of course! Back in the day, I blamed an expanded strike zone for Livan Hernandez as the sole reason for the Braves' demise in 1997... but truth be told, the Braves had other opportunities to finish the Marlins.

Like Ryan Zimmerman mentioned after the game, "Lance (Barksdale) didn't cost us the game", mentioning that Cole defeated them. 

Luckily, for the Nationals & their fans, they didn't dwell on Game 5 and powered forward.

When they won Game 6, I will admit my confidence in the Astros winning it, actually was at a postseason low. I had a feeling that they missed their chance, and Game 7 would play out the same way....

Early runs, then nothing, and late-game heroics. 

It was the same broken record the Astros have been playing all postseason long. It was odd, if Houston was able to play their game, they would be the World Champs today, but many of their hitters were cold. Jose Altuve completely disappeared, Alex Bregman was taking way too many pitches, being too selective & Carlos Correa was feast or famine.

When the Nationals won Game 6, it was the 6th time that the road team won during the series, before that, it never happened before in the major sports leagues. So for me, who was rooting for Houston, thought that the laws of averages certainly had to balance out...

In this series? Nothing has been normal about it.

Game 7 was bizarre in its own right. I think heading into the game, people believed that Max Scherzer will certainly out-pitch Zack Greinke... but Greinke came in dealing, which to be honest, I sensed he was starting to do better as the postseason moved on, he did have a good outing in New York against the Yankees and that Yankees' aura.

But the shocker came when A.J. Hinch took Zack out for Will Harris, who Hinch said prior to the game that Harris was probably looking at a night off, that Harris was beyond tired. Plus not to mention, Cole was available in the pen. Now I hope in the long run, that Houston fans don't blame Harris, he was having an excellent postseason prior to Game 6, and the Astros may not have got past the Yankees if it were not for some solid timely outs by Harris himself. But a long delay in Game 6 over the controversial Trea Turner interference play and over-usage would be his downfall.

Some people might say, well Greinke did give up a home run, to cut the game down from 2-0 to 2-1, but the overall reaction and the gut feeling I had was Greinke made a simple mistake and was very likely going to get out of it. He had 68 pitches or something like that? Had a couple single digit innings in pitch counts?! Who does that? I don't think Cole or Verlander recorded an inning that series with less than 10 pitches (maybe I'm wrong).

Anthony Rendon, a Houston native, who grew up loving the Astros -- not to mention local college hero, leading Rice to a College World Series championship, would be one of the daggers to Houston's chance at declaring themselves a dynasty. The other was Howie Kendrick, when that ball hit the right field pole, I knew at that moment the whole entire game was over... it mind as well have been a walk-off, you could literally hear the heartbreaks of millions of Houston fans. 

Strasburg was solid in Game 6 & series, earning MVP honors.
Stephen Strasburg becomes the 3rd pitcher to win 5 games in a single postseason, while the city of Washington got to celebrate their first world title in 95 years. Montreal Expos' faithful fans get to finally celebrate in their own strange way, but with this series, strange is the new norm, and now for the first time and possibly the only time (or at least in our foreseeable future, because we'll all be dead), a road team has now won all 7 road games.

After this series, I am not sure if stranger things can happen.

Scherzer & Sanchez finally get a ring after falling short in together in Detroit.

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