Great Moments in Strat – March 2016

Have you experienced a game of Strat-O-Matic so thrilling, unique or bizarre that you just HAVE to share it with someone? That would be us. Send your Great Moments in Strat to Please include your name and hometown. Readers like to see that and you deserve the credit.

The anticipation for the 2015 rosters and the 1982 rosters had me wondering how I could use both sets as soon as they were released. So I set up a tournament with the best 8 teams in each season. The first round had to match a 2015 team against a 1982 team and it matched the #5 seed 2015 Chicago Cubs vs. the #12 seed 1982 Atlanta Braves. Game 1 featured Cubs ace Jake Arrieta vs. Braves veteran Phil Niekro at Wrigley Field.
In the first 3 innings, Arrieta had fanned 8 of the first 9 hitters. Something special may be brewing, I thought. By the time I reached the 7th inning the Braves were still hitless, and I knew there was a real chance that Arrieta could make his mark among the greats in my imaginative Strat book of legends. As the 9th inning started, Arrieta gave up a lead-off walk to pinch-hitter Biff Pocoroba. With the top of the lineup coming up, it was going to be tough for the Cubs ace. Claudell Washington popped out, and Rafael Ramirez struck out. With the fans on their feet in Wrigley, Dale Murphy stepped to the plate. With my heart beating a little faster I left clicked the dice on my screen. Strike Three! Arietta’s 17th strikeout, and a no-hitter! Wow, what a performance featuring the brand new sets of cards for 2016!
Arrieta’s pitching line:
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 17 K
Cory Highfield, Florence, KY
I’ve been playing Strat baseball for many years and have had several near no-hitters but finally got my first one. I started a 1927 replay and on April 18 the Yankees’ Dutch Ruether threw a no-hitter against rivals Boston. Dutch gave up 4 walks and the only tough play was made by Babe Ruth, who robbed Jack Tobin of a home run in the fourth inning.
Jerry, Lawton, OK
I just rediscovered Strat again after 30 years and picked up the 1980 Season Replay my buddy and I started when we were kids. Had to share this one from July 1, 1980:
The 1980 Cleveland Indians bounced into seven double plays against the Detroit Tigers in a 7-2 nine-inning loss. Wasn’t sure just how rare this was until I checked the Baseball-Reference site and discovered that this feat had only occurred once in real life (since 1919 anyway): The 1969 San Francisco Giants grounded into 7 DPs in a nine-inning game against the Houston Astros on May 4, 1969 at the Astrodome.
It was a thing of beauty as I “watched” perhaps the most prolific double-play combination in MLB history work their magic – three apiece started by Sweet Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell plus one by Tom Brookens at third. Four DP’s ended innings – three of those came with two men on base.   Not surprisingly, Detroit leads the 1980 MLB replay in turned DPs with 91 through their first 72 games. There were plenty of gbA’s to go around. Leadoff man Rick Manning, who entered the lineup only after Miguel Dilone was injured on the first play of the game, was the lone Wahoo to hit into more than one; and fittingly, pinch hitter Ron Hassey bounced into a 6-4-3 twin killing to end the game.
The loss knocked the overachieving Tribe out of first and into a third place tie with Detroit in the AL East. Could this spell the beginning of the end of Cleveland’s early Cinderella season? Is the carriage turning back into a pumpkin? I don’t know, but I can see how a frustrating night like this could take its toll on clubhouse morale and start an irreversible downward spiral.
EJ, Richmond, VA
This Met fan witnessed a Strat horror, the most brutal loss in Mets history:
Fresh off Strat Opening Day in Glen Head, I did what I’ve been waiting to do since Nov. 1: Replay the 2015 World Series. With the Mets up 2 games to 1 in Game 4, Steven Matz kept the Royals scoreless through 8. Clinging to a 1-0 lead and faced with an eerily similar decision that Terry Collins had to make in reality, I decided to bring in Jeurys Familia to start the 9th. Frustratingly for me, the save was blown, and the Mets & Royals headed into extra innings. KC pushed across a run with a suicide squeeze in the 13th and summoned Wade Davis to hold it down. New York etched out a run to keep the game going, which is miraculous for two reasons: first, the Wade Davis card is nigh impenetrable, and secondly, between the 9th and 15th innings of this game, it was the only hit the Mets had with a runner in scoring position out of 11 chances. This dice roller was as exasperated as the fans at Citi Field would have been.
Into the top of the 16th inning now and Logan Verrett is on the mound for the Mets. He secures two quick outs, but then walks Alcides Escobar to bring up Wade Davis’ spot in the order. Davis had just completed his third inning of work and was set to come out of the game, but alas, the Royals were entirely out of bench players and relief help. In this situation I summoned who would be the Game 5 starter, Johnny Cueto, to pinch hit. His Batting 2 trumped Davis’ Batting 1, and hypothetically he could pitch until the game ended. He made good for Kansas City, as I rolled a stunning 6-5: Home Run. After rounding the bases, Cueto proceeded to finish off the most painful loss in Mets history, turning NY aside in the Bottom of the 16th, earning the save in a 4-2 Royals victory.
I had to put the dice away for the night after that one. Thankfully for me, my spirits were lifted the next day when the Mets took Games 5 & 6, earning the Series victory.
Kevin, Flushing, NY
I’m playing all of the canceled games from the 1994 season (using cards and dice), and recently had Bret Boone of the Cincinnati Reds hit four home runs in one game! Despite having only 12 in 381 at-bats in ‘94, Boone went on a homer rampage unlike any I have ever experienced in my time playing Strat.
With the Reds playing at Colorado, Boone homered in the first, third, and fifth innings off starter Marvin Freeman (2.80 ERA in ‘94) – the third chased the pitcher from the game. Then in the top of the ninth he connected off reliever Steve Reed. Bret certainly was helped by the thin Colorado air, as three of his home runs came via the ballpark effects chart (Colorado was 1-16 for righties in 1994). I recall getting chills as I rolled the 20-sided die in his last at-bat, looked down, and saw that I had rolled a 12. He finished a perfect 5-for-5, with six RBI to go along with his four homers in the 12-4 Cincinnati win. He has not homered in the six Reds games that I have played since then.
Just curious if anyone has ever had something like what happens at the end of this story, happen to them as well … A player hits a come-from-behind, walk-off HR in the 9th AND same player then hits a come-from-behind, walk-off HR in the 9th just two games later. Here’s the case where it just happened for me (and the guy who did it was no means a star; some may not even know who he is):
1977 Twins (with 1957 Ted Williams) at 1994 Padres (with 1948 Ted Williams): Here’s a reverse countdown of the biggest moments.
12.) Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 1st, the first 6 Padres batters got hits (including a Derek Bell 3-run HR), as SD went up 4-1.
11.) The Twins then scored in every inning except the 4th, and their 3-run 5th gave them a 7-5 lead.
10.) Minnesota added a 4-spot in the 6th, taking what looked to be a commanding 11-5 advantage.
9.) San Diego refused to throw in the towel and put up 5 runs between the 7th & 8th. They were down 13-10 going into the 9th.
8.) Before getting to the 9th, let’s look at some individual players. Rod Carew went 3 for 4 with a BB, triple, RBI & 4 runs.
7.) Larry Hisle contributed a 2-run HR to Minny’s efforts, finishing with 3 RBI.
6.) Bip Roberts did his best for the Padres, going 3 for 5 with a BB, RBI & 2 runs. He’s now hitting .386!
5.) Ted Williams put up this combined line between his 1948 & 1957 versions: 7 for 9 – 1 HR – 4 RBI – 8 runs – 2 BB!
4.) So back to the 9th…the Padres made a pair of quick outs, thus had nobody on base and were down to their last out, trailing 13-10…
3.) … But Bip singled. Tony Gwynn doubled. And ‘48 Ted ripped a 2-run 1B, pulling SD to within 13-12.
2.) Derek Bell followed with a single and the Padres were within a base hit of tying the game. Up stepped Eddie Williams … and he whacked a come-from-behind, walk-off 3-run HR, giving the ‘94 Padres a wild and stunning victory!
1.) Amazingly, it’s the SECOND come-from-behind, walk-off HR for Eddie Williams in the bottom of the 9th within the past three games! Holy cow!
Bobby Meacham (stratfanforum screen name), Bloomfield, NJ
I have two amazing moments in Strat and both occurred this season in the final two games of the SOMISA (draft) league World Series. It begins with the defending champ South Bend Fighting Irish (SBN) up 3-2 in games with the final two scheduled to be played at the Bellingham Bozos (BEL).
Through seven innings of Game 6 it was 1-1. BEL’s Adam Wainwright had allowed three singles and no walks while SBN’s Felix Hernandez allowed only five hits. SBN went ahead 3-1 in the top of the 8th featuring doubles by Jason Kipnis and Salvador Perez. That’s how things stood for BEL’s last gasp in the bottom of the ninth. Andrew McCutchen and Mike Adams hit singles to start the 9th and SBN brought in reliever Alex Sanchez. Adrian Beltre hit a Sac Fly leaving a runner on first with one out. With SBN holding pinch-runner Colin Cowgill and lefty Brock Holt at the plate, a grounder to 1-rated SS Troy Tulowitzki became a single with the hold dropping Tulo to a 2. That ratcheted up the excitement.
Unconventionally, BEL chose to pinch-hit for Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 34 HRs in the regular season and is strong vs RHP but had struggled a lot in the playoffs. Also, ignoring the lefty/righty switch and leaving Scooter Gennett on the bench, BEL chose Francisco Cervelli. He walked. But Jose Reyes lined out for the second out, leaving it up to pinch-hitter David Murphy (not the Mets’ Daniel Murphy). Murphy’s good season had turned into a sour 4-24 playoff. In the most shocking outcome, Murphy hit a walkoff grand slam home run for a 6-3 BEL victory, sending the series to a Game 7.
Game 7 was just as tight, 3-3 after nine innings. SBN broke the tie in the 10th on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo. Again facing elimination, BEL’s McCutchen singled and took second on Beltre’s one-out grounder. Down to the last out, Holt hit an astonishing walkoff two-run HR. It was a stunning moment and since we play this on line with no oral (only written) communication, I was able to go crazy without being seen as not a gracious winner.
While MLB has had three walkoff HR in a Game 6 by a team trailing in the World Series those games were all tied. There has never been a come-from-behind walkoff HR in Game 6 by the team trailing in the Series. There has never been a come-from-behind walkoff HR in a Series Game 7. The Strat-O-Matic odds of Murphy and Holt hitting come-from-behind walkoff HRs in those consecutive games were no more than 3 in 10,000. I’ll just take the win!
Steve Spiegel, Seattle
My favorite mode of Strat baseball is managing a favorite team through an as-played replay season on the PC and letting HAL autoplay the other games for that season. The most impressive team I have ever actually witnessed in real-life play was the 1998 edition of the New York Yankees. My favorite player on this team was Bernie Williams, who I witnessed playing years earlier for our then AA Albany-Colonie Yankees team. While not a classic power hitter, Bernie was among the team leaders with 26 HRs in 499 ABs in 1998 and most often batted cleanup while winning the batting title (.339) and a Gold Glove. 
In my replay, the Yanks were having a monster season coming into Baltimore on Sept. 18 to face Juan Guzman behind David “Boomer” Wells. History of an unexpected kind was about to be made. 
Having struck out in the first inning, Bernie came to bat in the top of the 3rd, with the Yanks leading the O’s one to nothing thanks to a Paul O’Neill solo shot in the first. With Brosius, Knoblauch and O’Neill filling the bases and two outs, a dice result of 1-4 and Bernie went yard off Guzman to give the Yanks a solid lead of 5-0. The score was still 5-0 in the top of the 9th with Guzman still on the mound with one out and the bases loaded again with Ledee, Knoblauch and Jeter. Unfortunately for Guzman and the O’s, the die result for Bernie’s at bat was the same 1-4 result ass before, opening the lead to 9 to 0 as Guzman hit the showers.
The Orioles answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame off Boomer, thanks to two errors and three singles. The game was not much in doubt when Bernie next came to bat in to lead off the 7th leading 11-3. The dice result was a 1-3 HR ballpark chance off Chris Fussell, and a split of 13 just missing a three-HR game. In the top of the 8th, score now 12-3 with two out and Rocky Coppinger in for Baltimore, the bases were loaded again with Brosius, Ledee and Jeter. Bernie accomplished the unprecedented feat of blasting his third grand slam HR of the game (on a 5-7 roll, 2 split result)! The Yankees won the game 17-6, as Bernie flashed his CF Gold Glove, robbing Eric Davis of a HR.   
On the game Bernie was 3-5 to raise his BA to .340, 3 HRs to 24, and 12 RBIs to 103! While I had never heard of such a feat MLB or even Strat, I checked Baseball Almanac Rare Feats to learn that 13 times in MLB history has a player hit 2 Grand Slams in a game, and no one ever hit more. I was surprised to learn that even at 13 times in MLB history that feat is more rare than pitching a perfect game (23) or hitting four HRs in a game (16). Maybe a live manager would walk in a run rather let a hot Bernie Williams go for history, but with the game and the season out of reach, I’d like to think that Ray Miller would have chosen to let his pitcher pitch to him and roll the dice. 
Rob Livingston (aka Theo27)
I have a fascination with terrible baseball teams so I decided to do a 32-team, NCAA basketball-style baseball “Worst Team Tourney” – where the loser advances – involving each franchise’s worst 100-loss team if they have had any since 1948. That meant that the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Rockies, and Angels would not have a team in the tournament since they have not had any. I did include the 96-loss 1963 Houston Colt .45’s purely for the cool nickname! I seeded the teams according to using their Pythag Theorem – the higher the seed, the worse the team. The No. 1 seed is the perceived worst team etc. Tournament structure is the loser advances and best of three series until the last four which is best of 5 and the finals are best of 7.
Round 1: The Fallow Field of 32 (losses in parenthesis)
32) 1985 SFG def. 1) 1954 Phila. A’s    6-4, 5-3
17) 1963 Hou .45’s def. 16) 1976 Expos    (2-5), 14-4, 0-1
25) 1991 Indians def. 8) 1979 A’s    3-2, 8-5
9) 1998 Marlins def. 24) 1988 Atlanta    5-2, 11-2
29) 1982 Twins def. 4) 1963 Mets    2-1, 7-2
13) 1979 Toronto def. 20) 2002 Rays    5-4, (1-7), 7-4
5) 1962 Mets def. 28) 1966 Cubs    5-3, 4-3
21) 1973 Texas def. 12) 2005 Royals    5-4, (4-6), 5-4
31) 1982 Reds def. 2) 1969 Padres    8-0, 4-1
15) 2013 Astros def. 18) 1971 Indians    5-2, 8-3
26) 1970 White Sox def. 7) 1954 Pirates    8-6, (4-16), 7-6
23) 1964 K.C. A’s def. 10) 1951 St. Louis Browns     (9-10), 6-5, 11-4
3) 2003 Tigers def. 30) 2009 Nationals    6-0, (5-6), 7-2
19) 1961 Phillies def. 14) 1963 Senators    3-1, (2-4), 14-3
6) 2004 Arizona def. 23) 2013 Marlins    4-2, 3-2
22) 1978 Seattle def. 11) 1988 Orioles    6-3, 6-4
Round 2: The Sour 16
1) 1954 Phi. A’s def. 16) 1976 Expos    4-0, (5-4), 6-1
24) 1988 Atlanta def. 8) 1979 A’s    5-4, (1-4), 6-3
4) 1963 Mets def. 20) 2002 Rays    (4-13), 8-6, 8-3
28) 1966 Cubs def. 12) 2005 Royals    11-1, (3-8), 9-0
18) 1971 Indians def. 2) 1969 Padres    7-1, (0-2), 6-3
7) 1954 Pirates def. 10) 1951 St. Louis Browns    3-2, (3-5), 2-1
14) 1963 Senators def. 30) 2009 Nationals    6-1, (1-2), 7-1
27) 2013 Marlins def. 11) 1988 Orioles    (1-7), 20-10, 4-3
Round 3: The Exasperating 8
8) 1979 A’s def. 16) 1976 Expos    7-3, 11-3
20) 2002 Rays def. 12) 2005 Royals    (2-3), 2-0, 8-4
2) 1969 Padres def. 10) 1951 St. Louis Browns    (0-6), 11-4, 10-7
30) 2009 Nationals def. 11) 1988 Orioles    13-3, 6-5
The Foul Four
16) 1976 Expos def. 12) 2005 Royals    9-1, (2-9), 7-1, (2-3), 9-0
10) 1951 St. Louis Browns def. 11) 1988 Orioles    3-2, ( 1-2), 11-1, 3-0
The World’s Worst Series
1988 Baltimore Orioles def. 2005 Kansas City Royals (2-13), 9-3, (4-10), 4-1, 3-2, 6-4
Well there it is – the 2005 Kansas City Royals are officially the worst team in history. They finished the tournament 7-13 and their Pythag record was exactly their real record of 56 wins – 106 losses. I thought that the ‘88 Orioles were actually worse, but they pulled out the upset. The Orioles finished 6-11 and their Pythag record worked out to a miserable 47 wins – 115 losses, a bit worse than their 54-107 real record. Both records are utterly horrible considering the level of competition.
Jeff Hackett, Utah
The 2016 season marks my 40th anniversary with Strat-O-Matic baseball (cards and dice). Highlights through the years include three no-hitters (Koufax ‘62 card and ‘65 card, and Tanana ‘73 card) and a record-setting 20-inning game (White Sox-Royals) only to be broken two nights later when the two clubs played 23 innings.
I enjoy playing the ‘60s-’70s era the most. What follows is “one of those games” you just have to share. It seems as though every time the Dodgers and Mets meet up, something bizarre happens. Case in point, a few years ago, Koufax was humming along with a 4-0 1-hit game in the sixth when Bud Harrelson pinch hit for Gentry. He homered (2-2 roll on his ‘70 advanced card vs. lefties). You had to shake your head – 1 homer in 564 at bats!
So here’s how my 2016 season starts. Koufax fires a 2-hit shutout in the opening game and Sutton follows with a 5-hit shutout. Now it’s Don Drysdale vs. Jerry Koosman. Through six innings, Drysdale has a 1-hit shutout going – not to mention he’s already helped himself with a solo home run (2-12 roll on No. 6 card). OK, not unusual. At this point, I’m wondering whether he’ll post the club’s third straight shutout. In the top of the seventh with a man on, Drysdale steps up and homers again off of Koosman (pitcher’s card this time). I already knew this was a first — no pitcher had ever chalked up a multi-home run game. I quickly recorded it in my record book. Then he shuts New York down 1-2-3 in the bottom half. With Koosman now gone, righty reliever Cal Koonce takes the mound in the eighth. He quickly encounters difficulty with the bottom of the order, and “the slugger” is up again. In total honesty, I was still fixed on his pitching performance – just six more outs. With only the slightest recognition of what he had done on the previous two at bats, I roll. It comes up 2-11 on the hitter’s card. “That’s impossible!” I said audibly. Then the 20-sided roll — a 10. I actually sat back in my chair for five minutes trying to fully comprehend what just happened. Yes, Drysdale – a pitcher – had just joined three other position players (Foster, Petrocelli, and Gentile) in the three-homer club. Just for the record, no one has ever hit four in my 40 years.
Unfortunately, Drysdale was roughed up for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, and I contemplated taking him out. But I left him in – he was excused. He was just too “giddy” to be effective after such an offensive performance. Three-for-four, three homers, and five RBIs. My only comment? “Nice hitting, Big D!”
Steve Jessup, Fresno, CA