Great Moments in Strat – May 2014

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            A Strat-O-Matic player for 51 years, and a steady one for over 40, I’m in the middle (literally having played game No. 484 of 972) of playing a cards-and-dice season involving the top teams of 1978. Ron Guidry (he of the 25-3, 1.74 ERA) took the mound today for the Yankees (World champs in ’78, but AL Division chumps at 36-45 in my league) against Eric Rasmussen (a journeyman No. 3 hurler for the Padres), whose been having as miserable season.
            Guidry fans seven of the first nine batters he sees, but the Yanks can’t touch Rasmussen, either. It’s 12-up, 12-down for both pitchers until Reggie Jackson leads off the fifth by being safe on the catcher’s (Dave Roberts) error. But Reggie’s out stealing to end the frame. Guidry goes 1-2-3 in his half. In the sixth, Bucky Dent walks with one out, but nothing comes of it. In the home sixth, Tucker Ashford breaks up Guidry’s perfecto with a walk and Ozzie Smith reaches on a Willie Randolph (1e20) miscue. But Guidry retires the next guy (Bill Almon). In the seventh, Thurman Munson draws a one-out walk, but Reggie smacks into a 6-4-3 DP. In the home seventh, Gene Richards opens with a walk, but Guidry gets out of trouble easily, fanning Dave Winfield and Roberts around a Gene Tenace flyout. Rasmussen goes 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth, Guidry does likewise in the eight and gets the first two guys in the ninth.
            Two nine-inning no-hitters?
            Ah, but Richards hits a groundball X to Randolph and Willie again boots it. Winfield up and he hits a flyball X to CF to Mickey Rivers (2+1e10). Dice roll is a 2, so a single-2, Richards to third, Winny on first. Guidry’s no-hitter gone. That brings up Tenace. Not-so-mean Gene is hitting under .200 and is being platooned at first with Broderick Perkins. He rolls a groundball SS X to Dent (2e14). Dice roll is 1, infield single, Richards scores. Ballgame over. No-hitter for Rasmussen. Yankees lose. T-h-h-h-h-e-e-e-e- Yankees lose!
            That’s as special a game as I’ve ever played out of about the 2,500 in my lifetime!
Dave Krauss, Blairstown, N.J.
WILD and CRAZY GAME        
            In a game between the Phillies and Reds in my Close Races 1978 NL replay, a tense game became one in which neither team seemed to want to win thanks to offensive blunders and late-inning bullpen failures for each team. But in the end it was the Reds who wanted to win the game less than the Phillies did.
            Bill Bonham started for the host Reds against lefty Jim Kaat for the visiting Phillies in the final game of a 4-game series. This game followed a Reds win in which they scored 11 runs in one inning although the Phillies had won the first two games.
            In the top of the second inning of a scoreless game, Larry Bowa led off with a single and stole second. Johnny Bench’s throw went into centerfield and Bowa continued to third. Bake McBride singled Bowa home. Phillies ahead 1-0.
            Neither team did much of anything for the next few innings. The lefty-bashing Reds were silenced by Kaat thanks to rolling the same dang roll on Kaat’s card (a 6-8) five or six times for harmless outs. Kaat allowed only 2 singles through 7 innings.
            The Phillies threatened a few times but could not add to their slim lead. After Buddy Harrelson walked with one out in the 6th, Bowa doubled him to third. But Bonham got tough and got McBride to pop out for the key second out. After Bonham walked Boone to walk the bases, Bonham was out of gas so I brought in Pedro Borbon to pitch to Garry Maddox. Maddox grounded out to end the inning.
            In the top of the 8th, Greg Luzinski led off with a walk and I brought in Jerry Martin to run for him and play left field for defense. Harrelson bunted him to second but he died there.
            Pete Rose led off the bottom of the 8th and I rolled a 1-5 on his card, a Homerun 1-4, Double the rest. The 20D came up TWO and the game was tied! Making that lucky split turned out to be moot because Borbon came up two hitters later and laced a double before dying there. Still, the game was tied 1-1 and the Phillies had lost Luzinski’s bat for the rest of the game.
            Now the tense and fairly quick game went off the rails to enter the Wild and Crazy zone.
            In the top of the 9th, Boone led off with a single. Maddox popped out and I sent up Tim McCarver to hit for Kaat, as the Reds had their big lefty bashers George Foster and Bench due up. McCarver doubled but I had to hold the slow Boone at third. I sent Borbon to the showers and brought in Doug Bair who has a lot of strikeouts. With the infield in Mike Schmidt hit a hard grounder to Joe Morgan but he fielded it cleanly and threw out Schmidt with the runners holding. This brought up lefty Richie Hebner with Martin on deck. Hebner is strong against righties while Martin is not, so I walked Hebner intentionally to load the bases. But Bair then issued a walk to Martin to force in a run. Harrelson then walked to force in another run, foiling the strategy. (Not really, because Hebner would have walked with Martin’s roll and Martin would have singled with Harrelson’s roll.) Bowa grounded out to end the inning but the Phillies now led 3-1.
            I brought in ace Ron Reed to start the bottom of the 9th. Foster flied out to start the inning. But Ken Griffey walked and Bench doubled him to third, putting the tying run on second. I sent in the speedy Dave Collins to run for Bench. Dan Driessen then walked to load the bases and things suddenly became very tense. Reed has that annoying automatic triple on a 4-7 roll among his few OB chances against lefties and the switch-hitting Rose was the next hitter up. Do I bring in the reverse-lefty Tug McGraw or stay with Reed, something I had considered when the lefty Driessen came up to the plate. Rose popped out for the second out, bringing up Cesar Geronimo. But I call back Geronimo and send up ace pinch-hitter Rick Auerbach and his 50 OB chances including lots of extra-base hits. And I roll one of those extra-base hits, a clean double to left field. Griffey walks home and Collins sprints home behind him with the tying run. And here comes Driessen with his 1-17 net against Martin to win the game. But the 20D comes up 18 and Driessen is OUT! The inning is over but not the game which is now tied at 3! Unbelievable. Martin is looking like a hero now with his tie-breaking walk and his game-saving throw (Luzinski has a zero arm to Martin’s -1.)
            So we go to the top of the 10th and I am just beside myself. I just want the game to be over, not another extra-inning game in which neither team wants to win and both teams burn out their bullpens again. Collins stays in the game to play left while Foster moves to center. Vic Correll comes in to catch, weakening the Reds defense at three positions. McBride leads off with a walk and Bair uncorks a wild pitch, McBride advancing to second. Boone then singles home McBride and the Phillies take the lead again, 4-3. Maddox then singles Boone to second. Reed is up next but he pops up the bunt and Boone gets doubled off second. Egads, can’t anybody here play this game? Schmidt follows with a walk and Hebner singles home Maddox to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. This brings up Martin but he can’t continue his heroics in his brief appearance, grounding out to end the inning.
            So we go to the bottom of the 10th. Can the Reds pull out another miracle as they did in the 9th? I send up Junior Kennedy to hit for Bair and the OB monster walks. Dave Concepcion flies out but Morgan follows with a walk, bringing up the dangerous Foster. Can he blast a 3-run homerun? Nope. He extends his collar to 0 for 5 with a strikeout, his second of the game, bringing up Griffey. Can Griffey find that 4-7 triple to tie the game? Nope, Reed strikes him out, too, and the Phillies escape with a 5-3 win.
            For the series the Reds outscored the Phillies 22-18 but the Phillies won 3 of the 4 games because 11 of the Reds 22 runs came in one INNING!
            A terrific, but annoying, Wild and Crazy game.
Dave Gould a.k.a. RetiredSOMer from the Stratfan forum