GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
THE BLACK BIRDS SCANDAL
Sometime during the scorching heat of July 1978, Rene Custeau’s Big Red Machine was on the verge of conquering the Portland Boys Club Strat-O-Matic League. Rene’s Reds won 105 games, easily outdistancing Big Jim Vance’s Dodgers for the NL crown, and were poised to meet their
The evening before the World Series was to open, several conspirators met to find a way to rig the outcome. It seems Rene’s Reds had a touch of bravado and had rubbed many of their opponents the wrong way as they blasted their way to a league record in wins. There were many ideas. Get Tim some weighted dice. Use the photocopier to make new and improved Orioles pitcher cards. Some even suggested adding Ex-Lax to some sort of pre-game food for Rene. In the end, it was decided to kidnap the great George Foster’s card and hold it hostage. The Big Red Machine would only run on four cylinders without the prodigious left fielder. With Rene in the gym playing basketball, the plan was set in motion. Someone quickly rifled through his locker and found the team. Foster was stolen and stashed in the Club’s Encyclopedia Britannica under F. They felt they had to at least give him a sporting chance.
The following day everyone squeezed in around the table for the beginning of the World Series. Rene laid out his team in preparation for making out his lineup card. Suddenly he realized Foster was AWOL. He frantically searched his cards and then his notebook to no avail. A few of the conspirators couldn’t keep a straight face, and the cat was almost let out of the bag. Rene was convinced there was some tomfoolery afoot and demanded to know where Georgie had been hidden. It seemed the conspiracy was about to come apart, but everyone managed to keep their peace and avoid any information leaks. The commissioner, Club Assistant Director Steve “Mouse” Muslawski, intervened and severely reprimanded everyone in the room. Steve demanded the card’s return and threatened to banish everyone from the club if it remained absent. After a few tense minutes, he acted on his threat and ejected everyone but Rene and Tim.
The World Series was played that day without the infamous George Foster card. The Reds went down in six games. The Strat league faced extinction for a few weeks in the wake of the scandal, but in the end survived. It would continue on in various forms for nearly 20 years.
2 DAYS, 3 GREAT MOMENTS
After reading the Great Moments for years, I finally had, not one, but three, in the past two days. The last one was the topper, and I just had to write.
I have been playing Strat Baseball since 1966. I have played 78 full leagues using the computer game, and thousands of games with cards and dice before that. This weekend, I set up a 738-team tournament, selecting most Yankee teams, and many others, to be played manually. I figure it will take at least three years to complete.
My first series pitted the ‘02 Yanks vs the ‘96 Red Sox. The Yanks easily won the first three games and were at Fenway to finish off the Sox. It was a finishing off to write home (or the Talk Show) about. The Yanks got 8 homers and 20 hits, and won the game 27-6. The great moment? Jorge Posada, hit a three-run homer in the 8th to give him three in the game, and my all-time Strat record with 11 RBIs in a game. After 41 years, that was really something.
My next series had the ‘95 Giants taking on the ‘98 Cubs at Wrigley. Game 1 was Kerry Wood vs. Mark Leiter. I played the Cubs vs. the computer and, of course, Sosa hit two homers and the Cubs were leading 7-2 in the ninth. The great moment was when I realized that Wood had 18 strikeouts and needed one more to break my all-time Strat record; if he K’d the side, he would even break the MLB record. Top of the order, Sanders, Thompson, and Bonds coming up. I groaned as Sanders flew out to left. I cheered as Thompson struck out. I had another new Strat record. Bonds walked, bringing up Matt Williams. Could Wood get his 20th? Williams popped it up, and I was sad to watch the ball float up to the infield. Oh, well, he still had the second record-breaker, and that was two in one day. His pitch count was 134, not bad for a three-hitter, with three walks. The Cubs even won the series in 7 games, as Wood struck out 14 more in another win, and Sosa hit three more homers to finish with 5 for the series.
The next day school was called off due to an ice storm. What better way to spend an unscheduled day off than with Strat-O-Matic? I had recently completed a full 1964 season replay and hadn’t gotten around to playing the World Series. Great idea.
It was the Yankees taking on the Braves. The Yanks had won the
The World Series opened in Yankee Stadium. Whitey Ford (22-5) vs. Tony Cloninger (17-10). The pitchers duel lasted four innings. Maris ripped a two-run single in the fifth, and Mantle followed with the first of his two homers. Ford was cruising along, allowing only a walk in the fifth. The Yankees continued to pound the ball, Maris and Tresh also homering, and led 10-0 by the ninth inning. Ford had three walks and seven strikeouts by then. I have had many no-hitters, and a few perfect games, with all the Strat I have played over 40 years, but I have never had one in a World Series. I was very tense as Woody Woodward, pinch-hitting for Warren Spahn, flied out to Mantle opening the ninth. When righty hitting Felipe Alou grounded to short, I was psyched. All Ford needed was to get the lefty-swinging Eddie Mathews, who had already struck-out three times. With his 8R balance and .233 BA, plus Ford’s 2L balance and 7.8 hit per 9, I had as good a chance as I would ever get. I wasn’t even thinking of Mathew’s 85 walks when Whitey walked him to bring up Hank Aaron. Unbelievable. Now I had a .328 card that had just finished at .361 to lead the NL in my replay. I yelled when Ford struck him out swinging. I couldn’t believe it. What a perfect way to spend a day off from school!
Keep up the good work. I never miss your articles.
NOW TO 1965 AND THAT GAME 7
I recently replayed the 1965 World Series (Super Advanced, cards and dice), which was
LA carried this 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th. Koufax was working on a 3-hit, 1-walk shutout with 9 Ks. Joe Nossek led off the last of the 9th with a pinch-hit and Versalles followed with a single, putting runners on 1st and 3rd. Koufax settled down to strike out Jimmy Hall and Tony Oliva. Now with two outs, slugger Harmon Killebrew walked to load the bases. At this point, Koufax reached his point of weakness, but Manager Alston elected to stay with his star pitcher. Earl Battey was at bat, the dice roll was 4-7, which would have been a game-ending K if Koufax was not at his POW, but it became a Series-winning two- run single for Battey and the Twins. Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller, LA’s two best relievers, would have issued a game-tying walk on the 4-7 roll.
A TALE OF ROUNDTRIPPERS
I have seen some things playing Strat that have been exciting or quirky, but this topped them all. I create an American and National league for each season with the top 8 teams from each league and play a 60-game schedule. I am in the middle of the 2003 season. White Sox at Blue Jays. Mark Hendrickson starting for the Jays, later relieved by Tanyon Sturtze and Jeff Tam. Frank Thomas was 5-for-6 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. But what was truly amazing is he hit for the HR “Cycle,” 1 solo shot, 2 Run homer, 3 run dinger and a Grand Slam!
COMEBACKS AND PAYBACKS
The pressure of the playoffs is enjoyable to watch as players are put into the spotlight expected to make every play. My Sharks won the league world series over Copperhead (respectively) last year in 7 games. Being hunted by other teams to take the title this year, my team showed why champions never die in the 1st round of the divisional playoffs.
My opponent, Bandits Manager J. Grace, was pounding at the table in joy as they took Game 1 at home, 3-1, in 12 innings on a Cameron homer 1-4 (fly 5-20) and I left 17 on base. Understandable he was excited, but that changed so quickly as it can in Strato. In the bottom of the 9th in Game 2, his team was up 3-0, but I quickly load the bases and after a K, single in 2 runs to make it 3-2, followed by another K. With 2 outs J. Dye singled in the tying run to tie it a 3. Fast forward to the top of the 13th and S. Rolen hits a 2 run-HR off of J. Broxton on a 4-2 roll. Grace again thrashed me with verbal abuse about not this year, threatening to sweep. But in the bottom of the 13th the Sharks again respond getting a 2-out M. Cabrera base hit to tie it in the bottom half, 5-5. Twice now he thought the game was over and both times my team responded by not giving up. Bottom of the 14th, O. Hudson hits a solo shot to win 6-5 in what was one of my greatest Strat games I could ever play. Lesson to Bandits owner J. Grace: It’s never over till its over!