Great Moments in Strat – August 2015

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(All: Read to the end … It will be worth it)
The Sack that Saved Seattle
Trying to repeat as champion of a league is never easy. After a lackluster 11-5 season and securing the #5 seed in the playoffs, the SOMSFA Seattle Seahawks woke up, especially on the defensive side. Two dominant defensive performances, 28-7 over the Packers and 27-10 over the Rams, set up a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.
The Seahawks led 20-0 with about five minutes to go in the third quarter, when the Broncos reared up and started their comeback. A 13-play, 69-yard drive got them on the board at 20-7. The Seahawks answered with a field goal and with 6:00 left in the game it was 23-7. There is no way that the Broncos could come back from that, right? Wrong! Needing two TDs and two 2-point conversions, the Broncos nearly pulled off the miracle comeback. First a 37-yard run by Alfred Morris on 4th and 2 set up a Montee Ball TD run. After the Alfred Morris conversion it was suddenly a 23-15 game with 2:42 to go. You know what comes next: THEY RECOVER THE ONSIDE KICK!
Three quick passes and the Broncos had life at the Seahawks 29-yard line. An end run by Morris and a short pass from Dalton to Roddy White and the Broncos were at the Seahawks 9, 1st-and-10 with 1:30 left in the game.
1st down: Short pass to Alfred Morris, guessed right, incomplete on the QB card 10 roll.
2nd down: Short pass to Julius Thomas. Seattle in a 3-3-5 showing blitz and bringing two extra LB’s and the FS. Who’s rating would come up? FS-Rahim Moore’s 8* (10* reduced due to BB set and shotgun) or Jurrell Casey’s 0*? It was Moore!
The Broncos were unable to find the end zone after that and the Seahawks hung on for back-to-back championships!
You can watch the action here, called by my good friend Tom Cooke:
Dennis Crowley
And the Best Team of All Time is …
It took nearly three years to complete, consisted of over 1,500 games, all played C&D style, almost ended in historic fashion, and contained one bona fide Strat-O-Matic miracle. This undertaking was a single-elimination tournament involving every Strat team in two combined collections. Thus, teams from nearly every Strat season, including many reissued and recreated campaigns, were part of this event.
Our 32 NCAA-style brackets were filled via random draw, all done by hand. This created some unique first round match-ups, including the ‘69 Orioles vs. the ‘01 Mariners (won by Seattle). Naturally, in our one-and-done format, there were some colossal upsets, like the powerhouse ‘61 Yankees falling in round one to the pedestrian ‘85 Mariners. The tourney featured plenty of bizarre moments too, including Richie Allen homering in the top of the first for the Phillies and then leaving the yard in the bottom of the first for the White Sox. 
Since my friend Doug and I live 90 miles apart, many teams were exchanged via USPS. Not a single team was ever lost or damaged in transit (and no, this is not the aforementioned Strat miracle). Several times a year we met for head-to-head competitions, which we dubbed Strat-urdays. Often, while referencing fielding charts, we pondered when someone would create a Steroids Effects Chart (our idea, which we never put into play, was to change any homer with a ballpark symbol to an automatic flyball B for any known juicer). 
Our daunting task felt a little closer to completion when each bracket had a victor, and not surprisingly, most of the 32 teams remaining were modern era clubs. Then, after trimming to sixteen, a best of five series was decided upon to reach eight teams. Our Elite 8 consisted of the ‘95 Mariners, ‘08 Twins, ‘08 Brewers, ‘96 Reds, ‘84 Red Sox, ‘01 Mariners, ‘71 Orioles, and ‘82 Dodgers. Our Final Four match-ups pitted the ‘95 M’s vs. the ‘96 Reds and the ‘84 BoSox vs. the ‘71 Orioles. 
We were elated when two legitimately strong Strat teams reached the championship round.  The ‘95 Mariners and the ‘71 Orioles would play a best-of-seven Strat World Series. In game one, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner socked two homers apiece as the M’s edged the Birds 7-5.  Ken Griffey, Jr. and Tino Martinez went deep in the second game as the M’s won 9-6. The O’s got on the board taking the third game 7-5. Game four was one for the ages as Randy Johnson took a no-hitter into the ninth, but with two outs in the frame, surrendered a single to Don Buford. Even Doug, rolling for the Birds, hung his head in disgust.  It would have been my first ever Strat no-hitter. The Big Unit, in what would prove his only start of the Series, fanned 13 in his one-hit shutout and the M’s had a 3-1 Series lead. 
The O’s kept things interesting by taking game five on a walk-off two-run home run by Brooks Robinson. But the M’s clobbered the O’s 10-2 behind four long balls to wrap up the Series in six games. 
Upon completion, a wave of euphoria overcame us. That feeling turned quickly to exhaustion when Doug asked, “So, what’s our next Strat project and when do we get started?” 
Finally, I close with the greatest Strat miracle of all time … an event rarer than a no-hitter, perfect game, or triple play.  Though we didn’t use weather effects, I can only imagine that a severe gale was blowing out to right at old Municipal Stadium the day Doug rolled 3-5, split roll 2, as Duane Kuiper hit a Strat-O-Matic home run, equaling his career total of one.  Congrats fellow Wisconsinite Duane Kuiper, wherever you are broadcasting from tonight!
Ted Kietlinski, Birnamwood, WI; Doug Surber, Appleton, WI
My Greatest Pitching Duel Ever
July 30, 2014, Seattle in Cleveland. Not a good night for baseball as bad weather holds crowd to 18,876 to see King Felix Hernandez (14-4, 1.73) and Corey Kluber (10-7, 2.88) go head to head in a great duel. Through seven innings there was only one base runner, Dustin Ackley who leadoff the game with a walk.
The double no-hitter is broken up by Kyle Seager, who leads off the 8th with a single. Kluber’s no-no is gone. Bottom 8th, Felix loses his perfect game when Santana gets a leadoff walk. After Chisenhall strikes out, Aviles, running for Santana, steals second. But Nick Swisher lines into 3-4 double play. Top ninth, Brad Miller draws a leadoff walk and goes to second on a James Jones sacrifice. Ackley strikes out, two down. Endy Chavez then doubles in Miller, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Kendrys Morales flies out to end the Mariner ninth. King Felix now has a chance for a no-hitter. First up is David Murphy and he strikes out. So does Yan Gomes for out number two. Roberto Perez bats for Chris Dickerson. But the King ends the game by striking out the side in the ninth for his no-hitter. It comes 17 days after the Mariners Chris Young no-hit Oakland in Seattle. The next day, Jake Arrieta of the Cubs tossed a perfect game at Wrigley, beating the Rockies, 6-0. It was the second perfect game of the National League season. The Braves’ Julio Teheran had the perfecto against the Cubs in May. And some people wonder why we play Strat.
Terry Nelson
Three Cubs Reward His Loyalty
I grew up in Evanston, moved to KC when I was 15, back to Evanston from age 22-32, then back here in KC since then (I am 48). Always kept my loyalties to the Chicago teams. Here’s one of my great moments for the Cubs: A 12-inning no-hitter. Samardzija goes 10 IP, Strop 2 and Rizzo delivers a walk-off single over a drawn in infield in the 12th!
Michael Johnson
BOXSCORE: 2015 Springfield Rifles At 2015 Roeland Park Rippers       7/4/2015
 Rifles             AB R H RBI AVG  Rippers             AB R H RBI AVG
 J.Altuve 2B         5 0 0 0 .323     G.Blanco LF          5 0 0 0 .255
 B.Crawford SS    4 0 0 0 .227     J.Ruggiano CF        5 0 1 0 .281
 D.Wright 3B       4 0 0 0 .205     F.Cervelli 1B         5 0 2 0 .310
 Y.Grandal 1B      2 0 0 0 .212     M.Prado 2B            5 0 0 0 .273
 J.Jay LF               4 0 0 0 .328     C.Iannetta C          5 0 0 0 .256
 J.Lagares CF        4 0 0 0 .279     A.Escobar SS         4 1 1 0 .238
 D.Dejesus RF      4 0 0 0 .257     M.Dominguez 3B   5 0 2 0 .225
 M.Zunino C         4 0 0 0 .225     J.Samardzija P       3 0 0 0 .182
 C.Kershaw P        3 0 0 0 .175   A-J.Smolinski PH      0 0 0 0 .371
 B.Boxberger P     1 0 0 0 .000   B-M.Bourn PH         1 0 0 0 .267
                                                P.Strop P               0 0 0 0 .000
                                                C-A.Rizzo PH       1 0 1 1 .279
                                                C.Cowgill RF        4 0 2 0 .184
                           — — — —                                 — — — —
            Totals      35 0 0 0                     Totals      43 1 9 1
A-Pinch Hit For Samardzija In 10th Inning
B-Pinch Hit For Smolinski In 10th Inning
C-Pinch Hit For Strop In 12th Inning
Rifles……….   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 0 1
Rippers……… 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1 9 0
Rifles (42-40)                 IP       H  R  ER  BB SO HR    ERA
C.Kershaw                     9        7   0   0    0   11   0    0.86
B.Boxberger LOSS(0-3)  2 1/3   2   1   1    1    6    0   3.86
Totals                           11 1/3  9   1   1    1  17    0
Rippers (43-39)        IP   H   R  ER BB SO HR   ERA
J.Samardzija             10    0   0   0   2   9     0    3.41
P.Strop WIN(4-0)     2    0   0   0   0    3    0    1.98
Totals                     12    0   0   0   2   12   0
ATTENDANCE- 48,298 DATE- Saturday, July 4th 2015 TIME- Night
T- 3:14
LEFT ON BASE- Rifles: 1 Rippers: 8
DOUBLE PLAYS- Rifles: 1 Rippers: 0
ERRORS- Y.Grandal
RBIs- A.Rizzo(50th)
WALKS- Y.Grandal-2, A.Escobar
STRIKE OUTS- B.Crawford, Y.Grandal, J.Jay-4, J.Lagares-2, D.Dejesus, M.Zunino-2,
             C.Kershaw, G.Blanco-3, J.Ruggiano-3, F.Cervelli-2, M.Prado,
             C.Iannetta-3, M.Dominguez-2, J.Samardzija-2, M.Bourn
BALKS- C.Kershaw
RLISP 2-out- F.Cervelli, J.Samardzija
TEAM RISP- Rifles: 0 for 0 Rippers: 1 for 5
The Road to Valhalla (Or the Most Satisfying Replay Ever)
I have replayed nearly 100 full seasons of baseball and football in my time. Most of them
using Strat, I coach my team through all of their games, and autoplay the rest. Back in the pre-computer days, I would simply plug my teams’ record into the actual standings for that particular year. None of those seasons could match my latest challenge – the 2006 Minnesota Vikings.
In real life, Brad Childress was in his 1st year as head coach. I never liked him. Thought I could do better. And at least for one glorious season, I would. After opening the season with wins over the Redskins, then Panthers, his team lost 10 of their final 14 games. So, double-digit losses for a team he had inherited with a winning record. For me, the Vikings won all 6 of the games they were supposed to – and half of the games they weren’t. A few highlights from a surprising 11-5 season:
In what was supposed to be a 31-7 blowout loss to the Patriots, we kept it close, losing only 17-14. This was due more to knocking out Tom Brady in the 1st half, than any coaching wizardry. The field goal that was the difference would start a very frustrating string of 22 consecutive field goals hit by the opposition to end the regular season.
Against the Cardinals, we were in a 9-9 battle of field goals, until a late drive ended with a defensive TD by the Cards. Were we going to lose despite our defense not giving up a TD? The ensuing kickoff goes into the end zone, and I decide to return it. The 33-yard return gives us an extra 11 yards in field position, but still leaves us 69 yards away from pay dirt in a defensive battle that hasn’t seen a drive of that length yet. Going into the final seconds without a TD, Chester Taylor finally breaks through, and we go to the only OT game of the season. The Cards get the kickoff, and because of a Viking penalty, have to punt twice before our offense can hit the field. Travis Taylor’s 12th catch of the game from 7 yards out seals the win, 22-16!
In Chicago, we faced a Bears team that had earlier beat us on our own field by 20 points. With under 3 minutes remaining, our offense had not reached the end zone and we trailed 19-7. Chester Taylor’s 4-yard TD run capped a 94-yard drive to close the gap to 19-14 late. The computer’s suggestion of an onside kick was rejected, and the ensuing kickoff for a touchback saved precious seconds. The defense forced a three-and-out and we had our chance. Marcus Robinson converted a 3rd-and-10 with a 44-yard TD pass from Brad Johnson in the final minute. After the 2-point conversion, the Vikings were up by 3, holding on for an improbable 22-19 win.
The regular season finale against the Rams looked to have no significance until a few lucky breaks in autoplay turned the game into a chance for a bye. It would not be easy. Inside of 2 minutes remaining, the Vikings trailed, 19-13. The game looked to be over when a 4th down attempt fell a yard short of the end zone. But on the next play Darren Sharper made a TFL for a safety and the scoreboard read 19-15. We still needed a TD. The ensuing free kick was returned by Mewelde Moore for 69 yards, and we were in business. In the final seconds, a Brad Johnson-to-Troy Williamson 9 yard TD pass gave the Vikings yet another improbable 22-19 win, and an improbable bye as well.
The streak of 22 consecutive FG made by our opposition to end the regular season was not continued in the Divisional Playoffs. The Redskins missed a pair of them early in the game. However, they made one to cap a 70-yard drive in the final seconds, to take a 16-14 lead. Ryan Longwell himself was 0-2 before his attempt at a 53-yard game winner fell short with :01 on the clock … but the Redskins were offside! With another attempt, Longwell’s kick was good from 48 yards out as time expired for the most dramatic playoff victory in my 46 years of coaching this franchise … 17-16 Vikings win!
Hosting the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game at the Metrodome, the Vikings trailed early, but a team playoff record 55-yard punt return by Mewelde Moore went for the franchise’s 1st ever postseason punt return TD, giving the Vikings the lead for good in a 35-10 rout. We had started the playoffs the way we started the regular season – with wins over the Redskins and Panthers … on to the Super Bowl!
Facing the Patriots in the Super Bowl seemed a daunting task. We received the opening kickoff and did nothing. The Patriots opening drive quickly reached midfield, and Tom Brady threw a pass for the game’s first score – Darren Sharper picked him off and took it to the house, with a franchise playoff record 66-yard return (only the 2nd pick six in team playoff history). This started off a great day for a defense that ended up with 4 sacks and 3 takeaways. They also stopped a 4th-and=goal from the 1. The Vikings scored the game’s 1st 24 points – was this for real? The Patriots scored the next 10, and the uh-oh feeling of being a Viking fan was creeping in. But they never got closer than 14, as the Vikings put on a dominant performance. Troy Williamson, perhaps the biggest draft bust in team history, had 3 receptions of at least 50 yards! He ended up with 11 catches for 268 yards and set a franchise playoff record with an 85-yard reception. All part of a 375-yard passing performance from Brad Johnson, whose pair of TD passes both went to Jermaine Wiggins. Final Score: VIKINGS 31 Patriots 17!
The Vikings were able to go the distance despite committing 25 penalties for 195 yards in the playoffs. They held opponents to 50% completions. Chester Taylor ran for 246 yards and 5 TD. Troy Williamson had 19 catches for 340 yards. And all 8 of the fumbles in our postseason games were by the opposition, of which we recovered half. SKOL VIKINGS!
Bob, Florence, AZ
A Royal Bullpen Disaster
The 1969 Orioles just went nuts in my current project. They had previously scored 108 runs in 31 games (3.48 runs per game) and then decided to do this to the 1994 Royals … How do you blow a 7-2 7th inning lead in epic fashion? Let us turn to Batman to find out.
BAM! Boog Powell homers off David Cone to lead off the bottom of the 2nd, Andy Etchebarren adds an RBI 1B, and it’s 2-0.
WHACK! Bob Hamelin hits a 2-run double in the 3rd to even the score at 2-all.
WHOMP! KC scores 2 more in the 4th, as Dave Henderson & Wally Joyner pick up RBI base hits. 4-2 KC.
WHOOMP! Make it 7-2 KC, as Greg Gagne hits 2-run HR in the top of the 7th, and Brian McRae lines an RBI 2B.
BONK! David Cone opens the bottom of the 7th by giving up 3 straight hits, so Baltimore gets within 7-3. Out goes Cone.
​BEEP! Reliever Rusty Meacham gets an out but then gives up an RBI 1B, a BB, and then RBI BB, as it’s now just 7-5 KC.
BOOP! Frank Robinson hits a tailor-made inning-ending DP ball to sure-handed Chico Lind at second…and Lind boots it! It’s 7-6.
BLAST! Following the 2nd out of the inning, Paul Blair really makes sure that Lind’s error is costly, as he smacks a 3-run double to give the Orioles a 9-7 lead! It’s a 7-run inning for the Birds!
BANG! Brooks Robinson leads off the 8th with a triple off Mike Magnante.
BING! Etchebarren follows with an RBI triple to boost the O’s lead to 10-7.
BONG! Following an out, Don Buford hits an RBI triple as well … it’s 3 triples in 4 ABs against Magnante!
BRAPP! Can Hipolito Pichardo stop the bleeding? No. He gives up an RBI 1B to Davey Johnson. It’s 12-7 Baltimore.
​BOOG! Following another hit, Boog rips an RBI 1B as the hits just keep coming for the ‘69 Orioles.
BLAH! Another key error for KC, as Wally Joyner makes an E and thus another run crosses the plate.
BLAST! And immediately following the error, Merv Rettenmund cracks a 3-run HR! 17-7 Baltimore! And it’s an 8-run inning …7 runs in the 7th and 8 runs in the 8th! Wow – what a way to win their 4th in a row and climb within a game of 1st place.
BYE-BYE! This is what the stat line for 4 KC relievers ends up looking like:
2 IP – 9 H – 2 BB – 2 K’s – 12 runs (plus they allowed 2 inherited runners to score).
1994 Royals: 7 runs – 13 hits – 2 E   
1969 Orioles: 17 runs – 17 hits – 1 E
“Bobby Meacham” (his online handle), Bloomfield, NJ
Last, Not Least: The Letter of the Month
Over the 4th of July, I invited my mother and sister over for a BBQ. Long story, short: It has been awhile since Mom has visited after having come from behind and beating cancer last summer, making it through 8 months of chemo treatments. I live 50 minutes away from where I grew up. Mom and Sis wanted to surprise me and show up a little early. Well, because of the surprise I did not have time to clean up the kitchen table from last night’s game. The entire table was a Strat war table like that of what you see in the old war movies.
Mom saw the cards and dice and asked what it was and sort of remembered the game from when I was little. She says, “Hey, Sparky, let’s play a game.” I explained the rules as simple as I could. She was the ‘57 Yanks and knew so much about most of the players from the era. It brought her down memory lane while she reminisced about the cars, the music and growing up during the era. We played a good 6 innings, kept score in our heads. When someone would make an out she would say something like, “That Kubek, he’s a bum! Never liked him much on TV, either.”
I’m 49 and Mom is, well Mom age. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant and rewarding 6 innings ever! The first thing she says now on the phone is, “Did you play last night? And, “I think those were loaded dice!” I loved it, she loved it and we are having a rematch in couple of weeks when I visit her to clean the windows. This time I will let her use her own dice.
John Sparti