Thursday, May 30, 2019

Remembering Buckner


I was just turning 10 years old, when the 1986 World Series was front and center. It was the first World Series that I truly ever watched, my parents let us watch each and every single one of those games -- plus much of the League Championship Series that preceded this classic World Series as well, which were as equally as exciting as the fall classic itself. The drama of that entire 1986 MLB postseason took me from a curious-about-baseball-novice to full-blown-baseball-lover for life...

and unfortunately for Bill Buckner, he played a pivotal role in that.

I remember feeling so bad for Bill, I remember that the very next school day, everyone talking about it (teachers and students), everyone replaying it by doing actual re-enactments on the playground.One of the kids played Buckner, while one of the others is an exuberant Gary Carter running across home plate.

I remember when my friends and I would open up packs of the 1987 Topps Baseball, the next spring, and when they pulled a Bill Buckner card, someone would say something on the lines of "Oh man, I got that loser" or "Oh, that poor bastard." Keep in mind, we were only kids, so we all know how much more worked up the adults and especially New Englanders were about that gaffe.

Of course, as history would play out, Buckner would be forever linked and haunted by the fielding mistake. Red Sox Nation and  the media would quickly turn their back on Buckner, and Buckner himself would even move his family away from Massachusetts to Idaho, to avoid scrutiny.

His career was not the same from that point as well, as he batted only .258 over his next 1,041 plate appearances, with only a .621 OPS and .289 on-base percentage.

With his recent passing, many interesting stat lines over his career were noted, here are a few...

  • Only one player had more hits than Bill Buckner in the 1970's and 1980's combined, and that was Pete Rose. Buckner had 2,707 hits during that span.
  • Bill Buckner NEVER struck out more than 2 times in a single-game throughout his entire career. In fact, in 1980, when he won his only batting title (N.L. Batting Title for the Cubs), he only struck out 18 times that whole season (615 plate appearances).
  • Per 162 games, Buckner struck out on average - 29 times a year.
  • Buckner was one of five players to play in the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's & 1990's.
  • Buckner only made the All-Star Game once, which just goes to show how often he was overshadowed.
  • Buckner was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1968 MLB Draft. The Dodgers also selected Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Tom Paciorek, Doyle Alexander, Bobby Valentine, Geoff Zahn and Joe Ferguson in that draft.
Bill Buckner was loved by many of his teammates, and many say you won't find a nicer guy in the baseball world. He was a solid player, but he was an even better person.

I know that he will always be unfortunately known for that play, but I will say this, if it wasn't for Bill Buckner and his Game 6 blunder, I may not have fallen in love with the game in the same way, like I did that autumn.

So with that, I want to say thank you Bill, for helping me fall in love with baseball.

You will be missed.




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2nd APBA Vegas Looking for More Contenders

The Vegas APBA 2019 Tournament is still looking for some participants in its upcoming tournament, which takes place from August 8th - August 11th, at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The tourney criteria will be any MLB team between 1969 through 2009 with 2-Man rotations. 

Last year, the Vegas tourney had a guest appearance that featured four-time batting champ, Bill Madlock, who played from 1973-1987. The team that won that tournament happened to be the 1987 Detroit Tigers, which featured Madlock in his final MLB season.

Who will win it this season?! Maybe you, if you sign up for this exciting tournament... Chris did an amazing job, making a huge splash with last year's debut.

Contact Chris White via email at cwhitesports@yahoo.com


Thursday, May 9, 2019

1978 Brothers in Dice: Out of the Gate

As I mentioned in previous post, my brother Chris Baier and I, are replaying the 1978 MLB Season together, with him playing the National League, and with me playing the American League. I have already rolled 47 games since Easter, and that involves about 38 games logged in the team-by-team statistics & write-ups for about 33 of those games (27 of those games reported on APBA's Between the Lines Delphi Forums.

So if you are following me on "Brothers in Dice: 1978 MLB Replay, A.L." on the Delphi Forums, don't read below -- Spoiler Alert!

Here is some of the action so far..

The American League East is already playing out as advertised with 6 teams all within 2 games from one another. At the moment, the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers lead the division with a 4-2 record.

The Tigers have just won their 3rd straight (winning their series finale against Texas, plus two straight against Toronto). The Tigers' Rusty Staub took a little bit to get going, but has been on fire during this streak, batting 7-for-13 (.538) with 3 HR & 10 RBI (He was 0-for-11 during the previous three games). The Tigers consistent leader has been Ron LeFlore, batting .444 with 12 hits, a HR & 4 stolen bases. 

The Brewers' lineup is just sick, it's pretty scary when Gorman Thomas is your 7th hitter in the batting order. The Brew Crew's Larry Hisle is currently tied for the American League with 4 home runs, while being tied with Oakland's Gary Alexander. Personally, I believe this Brewers team is the team to beat in the A.L. East, plus they have yet to plug Mike Caldwell into the rotation, who went on to win 22 games in 1978 with a 2.36 ERA while leading the league with 23 complete games. Caldwell did already win a game through 3 innings of relief in a big 8-6 victory over the New York Yankees.


Caldwell of course, did not win the A.L. Cy Young in 1978, any other year he may have, but he was against a man named Ron Guidry. The Yankees' Guidry (Grade A&C-KZ) for the most part has been spectacular his first two outings, he allowed only 2 hits & 1 earned run, striking out 9 in 9 innings against the Rangers in his season debut, while he was in cruise-control during his 2nd outing, until he stayed in a inning too long & got rocked for 4 runs in the 9th... 

Even so, his season totals are as follows -- 1-0, 3.06 ERA, 21 K & 11 BB (17.2 innings)... The walks are high, but he has only allowed 7 hits, which gives him an excellent 1.019 WHIP still. If you take away the 4-run 9th inning against the White Sox, he has a 1.08 ERA (2 ER) through 16.2 innings. 

The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals kicked off the season in back-to-back games that went to extras. During the first game, Cleveland pitchers walked 11 Royals, but Kansas City kept stranding their men, leading to extras, but Al Cowens' RBI double in the top of the 11th helped the Royals defeat Cleveland. The next game went 15 innings, the Royals would be triumphant again, but once again K.C. should have put the game away earlier, as they had 16 hits, while Cleveland only had 5 hits!

If things couldn't get worse, both teams would go on to play someone else for their 3rd games, and both would still go to extras... again! This time K.C. losing to Baltimore through 10 innings, while Cleveland lost again, this time to Boston, 2-1. Cleveland lost all three of their first three games in extras, losing by no more than one run. 

Cleveland was only batting .180 through the first 4 games, while their pitching has actually been stellar in the ERA department, with a 1.76 ERA (particularly their starting pitching, 1.09 ERA).

The Boston Red Sox like the Milwaukee Brewers have a monster lineup, and although they are 3-3 and in excellent shape to compete for the division, it so far has not come by the hands of stars such as Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk & Fred Lynn -- who were a combined 8-for-51 (.157), while it has been the two men at the top of their order in Rick Burleson & Jerry Remy, who were a combined 15-for-28 (.536). Remy started the season with three consecutive games with 3 hits each, while he is still batting .423 through 5 games.




Over in the A.L. West, the California Angels were on 7th Heaven with their 7-0 start to the season, until getting blanked by Oakland, 6-0. Through their first 6 games, the Angels were batting .290, while their pitching was lights out with a 1.77 team ERA. They outscored their opponents, 40-11 (+29 Run Differential), even though they only hit 4 home runs. The team has already had three innings of 5+ runs, their biggest being an 8-run outburst in the 4th inning during their 3rd victory of the season, in a 11-0 shutout against Oakland. Bobby Grich has been heating up at the plate, which included a 4-for-5 performance that included a HR, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, 4 runs & a walk.

The Kansas City Royals have been trying to keep pace, and are currently in 2nd place with a 4-1 record. The Angels and Rangers in real-life finished 1978 in second place, and I believe that at the moment, the Royals and Angels should definitely be in the mix. The Texas Rangers in the meantime are not looking like a division contender one bit. They are worst off than the Indians, with a .151 batting average & lousy 5.87 team ERA. Jon Matlack (Grade A-YZ) is the only Rangers pitcher worth talking about, who is currently 0-2 with a 2.55 ERA & 11 strikeouts. 

Two players off to really hot starts, are Seattle's Bruce Bochte is batting .410 (16-for-39) with 2 HR & 13 RBI through 10 games, while Minnesota's Dan Ford is batting .429 (18-for-42) with no HR, but 15 RBI through 10 games. 

Quick Glance at the National League (through 23 games): On Chris's side, I do know that the St.Louis Cardinals opened the season by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies. The New York Mets won a double-header against the Montreal Expos, to split series 2-2. The Atlanta Braves are off to a surprise 3-1 start, with Gary Matthews hitting his 2nd HR recently.



Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Brothers In Dice: 1978 Season Replay (Collaboration)


As I have mentioned in one of the prior blog posts, my brother Chris and I will be partaking in a APBA season replay of the 1978 MLB Season. Chris will be playing the National League, I will be playing the American League. 

We decided to do this project shortly after the New Year. 

We have went to a APBA Tournament together before... Chris was runner-up in the 1st Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament in Jackson, Michigan.

Four teams won 90+ games in the American League, all within 9 games or less of each other... even the 5th place Tigers won 86 games that season.

You can follow both of our projects regularly through the Delphi Forums at APBA Between the Lines.My topic is labeled "Brothers in Dice, 1978 Replay, A.L." and Chris' topic is labeled "Brothers in Dice, 1978 MLB Replay, N.L."... or just go to Advance Search, and type brothers in dice.

Highlights, coming soon...
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