Another League Of Our Own (Replay Zone – March 2014)

By Jeff Polman
March ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out “Ball Nuts”, my new “fictionalized” replay book on the 1977 season.
Just noticed that Strat has a great promotion going this week. If you’re a member of a Strat league with at least five members, email a photo of said league to and receive a 30% discount on your next product! I happen to be in the ECBA League pictured in the announcement that explains all of this in more detail, even though I’m not in that 2013 picture. But don’t worry. Intend to make up for that a few months from now…
Back in my January column, I mentioned a 1973 draft league I was starting with the just-released ’73 cards. Well, after recruiting a dozen “absentee managers” from the Baseball Freaks Facebook group I’m in, the ’73 Freaks League has been born!
And what a league it is. Two divisions of six teams will play a 162-game NL schedule from that year, with yours truly rolling all 972 of the games. But that’s the easy and fun part. The difficult part so far was conducting our player draft, which because of the global locations and busy schedules of all the managers, took about 20 hours to finish, spread over two and a half days.
Surprisingly, Joe Morgan of the Reds was chosen first, when I thought it might be Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron or Tom Seaver. Anyway, here’s where many of the top 1973 stars landed:
Smilin’ Seymours (MGR: Steve Butts, Lansing, MI; ballpark-Baltimore)
Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Phil Niekro, Mickey Lolich
Black Diamonds (MGR: Joe Viaene, Moline, IL; ballpark-Atlanta)
Amos Otis, Dick Allen, Darrell Evans, Luis Tiant, Vida Blue
Northern Hemisphere Human Beings (MGR: Dan Lee, Pickerington, OH; ballpark-Cleveland)
Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Jeff Burroughs, Jose Cardenal
Jordannaires (MGR: David Jordan, Princeton, NJ; ballpark-Oakland)
Bobby Bonds, Johnny Bench, George Scott, Bert Blyleven
Moose Men (MGR: Ron Rollins, Bournemouth, England; ballpark-Kansas City)
Jim Palmer, Bobby Murcer. Nate Colbert, Ferguson Jenkins
Frank Lloyd Wrights (MGR: Bailey G. Walsh, Spring Green, WI; ballpark-Milwaukee)
Cesar Cedeno, Bob Watson, Ken Holtzman
Great Danes (MGR: Michael Dane Minneapolis, MN; ballpark-Wrigley)
Willie Stargell, Ted Simmons, Carl Yastrzemski, Wilbur Wood, Tug McGraw
One for Five Dotcoms (MGR: Paul Dylan, Poulsbo, WA; ballpark-Dodger Stadium)
Thurman Munson, Davey Johnson, Willie McCovey, Ron Santo
Kuhnskinners (MGR: Jason Toon, Seattle, WA; ballpark-St. Louis)
Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson
L.A. Superflys (MGR: Dan Epstein, Los Angeles, CA; ballpark-Detroit)
Reggie Jackson, John Mayberry, Jerry Koosman, Dock Ellis
Psychotronics (MGR: Ted Cosgrove, Seattle, WA; ballpark-Philadelphia)
Hank Aaron, Sal Bando, Greg Luzinski, Bill Singer, Rollie Fingers
Ghost of Horace Clarke (MGR: John Borack, Fountain Valley, CA; ballpark-Comiskey)
Rod Carew, Reggie Smith, Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter
You may have noticed I don’t have a team of my own here. That was by design, because running a league and playing all its games when I also have a team in competition just didn’t seem right. Besides, I get more enjoyment than I need rolling the dice and creating an accompanying “fiction” for the league. For instance, check out the enclosed photo of the “workable” scoreboard I created in Photoshop, to be updated after every full day of play on our schedule.
Bert Blyleven earned our first “Star of the Day” by firing a 1-hit shutout at the Moose Men, while Yaz took yesterday’s with a 5-RBI performance against the Superflys. And yes, that “21” in the lower right corner is for the great Roberto Clemente, who died on New Year’s Eve of 1972. Moose Men manager Ron Rollins affectionately gave up a roster spot and chose him for the final pick of the draft.
I’ll provide Freaks League updates throughout the year, but everyone is welcome to invite yourself in at our Facebook site and follow along there!
Launching my 1973 project has unfortunately forced me to suspend (or severely slow down) dice-rolling on my Best of ’97 replay, which I’ve been reporting here on the Strat Fan Forum. It’s been a fantastic, offense-heavy endeavor, one I am certain I will return to, because the games and races have been so exciting and unpredictable.
Cleveland and Florida, the two World Series entries from that year, have been struggling mightily out of the gate, as have the starting pitching-loaded Braves. Still, the AL is a great 4-team race, with the Mariners, Yanks, Orioles and surprising Brewers all within one game in the loss column. The Mets and Giants are tied in the NL at 18-12, with the Astros not far behind.
And practically every club has baseball-killers in their lineup. The Yankees especially do, with Tino Martinez racking up 39 RBIs in their first 30 games, and the team hitting .313 with a lordly .404 on-base percentage and .936 OPS. Individually, David Justice leads both leagues with a 1.144 OPS to go with his .367 average. Big Hurt Frank Thomas is at .347 with a 1.134 OPS, and Larry Walker chimes in at .352 with a 1.056 OPS. Yes, no 1997 lead is ever safe.
Some people hang on to their old card sets and some don’t, but if you do, I can honestly recommend digging out your ‘97s and rolling a few games for old times sake.