GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
Courage, Logic and Sweaty Palms
I bought SOM NFL Football in October for the sole purpose of winning Superbowl XL with the Seahawks. What would make it even better would be if the Steelers were the opponent. I shuffled the NFC and AFC so that I wouldn’t be bored with a soft schedule and ended up with Tampa and Washington in my division. I ended the season at 13-3 with the 3rd seed behind the Giants and Panthers. The Steelers grabbed the 5th seed in the AFC by winning 8 of their last 9 games to finish 10-6. The Steelers then pounded Cincinnati, Denver, and Indy to get to the Super Bowl, winning each by at least 20 points. The Seahawks took Atlanta, Carolina, and Giants in less impressive fashion as Shaun Alexander rushed for more than 600 yards in three games.
In the Super Bowl, the Steelers got out to a quick lead by taking their first punt 92 yards for a touchdown. With 3:30 left to play, I (Seahawks) faced 4th and 2 at the Steeler 23, trailing 20-17. I reasoned that I had a 62% chance of hitting the field goal and that after that if I made the field goal I still had less than a 50% chance of winning because Pitt had three minutes to drive back and make a field goal, and failing that they had OT. Therefore, a field goal gave me no better than a 31% chance of winning the game. However, with Alexander I figured I had a 60% chance of a first down and then close to a 50% chance of scoring a touchdown for the win, plus a better shot at hitting a field goal from closer range with less time on the clock. Overall, going for it seemed to be better odds at winning. I went off tackle left for 2 yards and the first down. Pitt defended the flat pass. On the next play Alexander went off tackle right for 21 yards and a 24-20 lead. Pitt then drove to my 26 yard line and lost the game as a bomb to Hines Ward on 4th and 7 failed because of a linebacker double team. Vindication achieved.
My story is odd because it so closely mirrored what actually happened in 2005. I think it also illustrates how bizarrely conservative NFL coaches are. Would a coach go for it on 4th and 2 from the 23 trailing by 3 in the Super Bowl? No. He would be afraid of crucifixion if he failed. I was afraid, too. My palms were sweating when I pushed the button.
Eric Pearson, resident of Boston, native of Seattle
Pitching Duels? Beat This!
1978 was the first baseball season I remember at all, so I was excited to get the repro of the year several years ago. After replaying the 1978 AL Playoff game, ironically won on a Bucky “Bleepin’ ” Dent homer, I set about getting a small league together. I grabbed the top four teams by record from each league and played a season of 12 games per team.
The first game happened to be the Yankees and Brewers, featuring an Opening-Day pitching matchup of Ron Guidry and Mike Caldwell (who, by the way, would have won the Cy Young award nearly any other year). It was the 6th inning before I noticed that neither team had a hit. It stayed that way until the bottom of the 7th, when Sixto Lezcano homered. Now that the Brewers had the lead, I concentrated on Mike Caldwell’s no-hit, perfect game. The Yanks rolled consecutive 20s on high single chances … and then Caldwell ended the game on a strikeout of Bucky Dent. My first league game, with what became my favorite set, was a perfect game win over the hated Yankees. And by the way, all Guidry did in the game was allow 1 hit, 1 BB, 1 ER and 14 Ks.
Matt Thompson, Rockland-Augusta, Maine
Five Phils Pitches, No Orioles Hits
My latest Great Moment occurred on Christmas Eve morning during my annual Winter Tournament, featuring 64 World Champs of the past, each series best of seven. Some games I play on computer, some with the cards and dice. This morning, I use the cards and dice. Today’s series featured 1980 Philadelphia and 1983 Baltimore, vying for a spot in the Final Eight. Philly had knocked out the 1978 Yankees and 1979 Pirates to get here. Baltimore had knocked out 1982 St. Louis and 1985 Kansas City.
The Phils led three games to two, coming into Game Six. Scott McGregor would start for Baltimore, Larry Christenson for Philly. I’m using the Strat Fan version of the 1980 Phils pitcher’s cards, as I like the varied card patterns, for those old-timers out there who remember the controversy that year.
McGregor retired the Phils in order in the top of the 1st. Ford led off the bottom half of the 1st for the Orioles, 16-for-42 (.381) for the tournament so far. Christenson’s a backwards righty, (29 obp vs 19.8), so Earl (coming out of retirement for the tournament) decided to go with him over Bumbry. Ford hit back to the mound, but LC, being an e38, booted it, so the leadoff guy was on. Undaunted, Christenson retired Lowenstein, Ripken and Murray. No score after one. McGregor again retired the Phils in order in the 2nd. Christenson did likewise in the Oriole 2nd, but was injured getting Sakata for the 3rd out.
The Phils broke through with a run in the 3rd. Bowa, batting 9th with the DH used in the AL home park, singled to lead it off. Trillo’s flyball X went for a two-base error, then a sac fly by Rose plated the run. Espinosa relieved the injured Christensen, and retired Dempsey, Cruz and Ford in order. Philly didn’t score in the top of the fourth. With righty killer Lowenstein leading off the Oriole 4th, Murray and Singleton lurking, we couldn’t stay with Espinosa in a close game, he’s very weak against lefties. The lefty Saucier comes in. Shelby hits for Lowenstein, who’s hopeless against lefties. Saucier gets him, then retires Ripken and Murray. Shelby stays in to play CF, Roenicke moves to left, improving the defense.
Philly breaks loose in the 5th. An error by Murray, a sac bunt and an rbi single by Rose makes it 2-0. Schmidt follows with a homer, 4-0 Phils. In the bottom half, Saucier gets Singleton to lead it off, then leaves for the righty reliever Reed. Earl, knowing that McGraw lurks in the Philly bullpen for the late innings, leaves Roenicke in. Reed retires the side quietly in the 5th and again in the 6th.
Philly goes quietly against McGregor in the 6th and 7th. As Earl expected, McGraw relieves Reed to start the 7th, the 5th pitcher of the game due to the injury to Christenson. Shelby, Ripken and Murray go quietly in the 7th, Singleton, Roenicke and Sakata in order in the 8th.
The Phils again go quietly in the top half of the inning, so it’s 4-0 going to the Oriole 9th. Gross goes to left field for Luzinski, Boone in to catch. McGraw gets the first two hitters in the Oriole 9th. It is at this point, believe it or not, that I finally notice – the Orioles do not have any hits in the game! In fact, other than Ford being safe on an error to lead off the game, they’ve not had a baserunner! Christenson and four relievers have retired 26 Orioles in a row!
And so, it has come to this: Ford up, 16-for-45 so far in the tournament, batting .356. I roll the dice. 2-6, groundball SS-A. No-hitter complete, in the series-clinching game no less! The Phils move on to take on the 1990 Reds in the next round.
Jim Beauchemin, Altamont NY
A Not-So-Great Moment
I am 17, and began playing Strat at a tournament in Portland in 2002. I just read one of these stories about a player who has played since 1964, and has not pitched a no-hitter. In the second tournament I played in, Seattle in September of 2002, Wade Miller pitched a no-hitter for me. Unfortunately, I pitched the wrong starter and lost the game by forfeit. I am writing this just to let people know that it is better NOT to pitch a no-hitter, than to pitch one, and then realize that you lost anyways.
Bud Bannon, Port Orchard, WA
The Champs Find a Way to Win
In the final game of my 1961 AL Tournament, the Yankees trailed the Orioles losing 1-0 without a hit for 6 2/3 innings. With Yogi Berra on first with a walk, Elston Howard followed with an X-chart infield single to break up the no-hitter. Clete Boyer followed with a grounder to 1B Jim Gentile, whose two-base error allowed the Yankees to tie the game. The Yanks won in the bottom of the 10th. Following an error by Hoyt Wilhelm that loaded the bases, Bill Skowron flew out to shallow center for the second out. But with Howard at bat, Wilhelm uncorked a wild pitch to allow Tony Kubek to score the AL title winning run.
I just thought that is was neat that the ‘61 Yanks, known for all of their power, would win a game on only 3 hits, and take advantage of 2 errors and a wild pitch.
Bob Stanley, Staten Island, NY
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
All Stars, No Hits
Being a veteran of 40 years and just getting my first no-hitter a few months ago was a very exciting time for me. When the feat happened again in, of all places, an All-Star Game, that was very rare. In my 1958 All-Star game, Billy Pierce threw the first 3 innings for the American League, followed by Frank Lary, Billy O’Dell Don Larsen (yes, the one who threw the perfect game in the 1956 World Series), Jerry Harshman and Bobby Shantz. The American League won, 3-0. The National League had such stars as Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson (all Hall of Famers). NL pitchers Lew Burdette, Warren Spahn, Johnny Antonelli and Bill Henry held the American League stars like Mickey Mantle, Rocky Colavito, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Luis Aparicio, Larry Doby and Roger Maris to 3 runs and 7 hits.
The funny thing is, I was trying to get as many players as possible in the game and was not paying attention. Then, with two outs in the ninth inning I realized – wait a minute, I am one out from a no-hitter! Dick Groat came on as a pinch hitter to see if he could spoil the magic. He hit a ground ball to short, Aparicio to Vic Power for the out. Ladies and Gentlemen, a combined no-hitter by six pitchers! I don’t think the majors ever had a no-hitter in an All-Star game. This was the most amazing game I have played in 40 years.
As Great As the Browns Can Be
Like most years since their return, it was a wretched 2006 for the Cleveland Browns. The horror began on the first play of training camp when highly-prized free agent Charles Bentley suffered what appears to be a two-season ending knee injury. The injuries kept piling up, and so did the losses. But the low point came Nov. 27 when veteran sportscaster Casey Coleman lost a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. His dad, Ken Coleman, had broadcast the Browns’ championship game back in 1964, but Casey’s lengthy
It rankled me to
Not only were the Browns built for success, they were going to do it with one of the most tragic figures in Cleveland Browns history, the Hamlet of Berea, Tim Couch himself, at the helm. Couch is considered a bust. It’s little remembered that he had a promising rookie campaign that fizzled when his ramshackle offensive line left him battered like a fresh-caught cod. Injuries, not talent, led to Tim’s demise. He deserved better, and by golly he was going to get it!
“It” was the best of the Browns’ SOM old-timer teams. Jim Brown was the primary running back, with Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green as backups. The receiving corps featured Paul Warfield and
The defense was almost as intimidating. Excellent run and pass defense cards were mixed and maxed to ensure domination, and what a cast of characters manned the positions! The defensive line, from left to right: Paul Wiggin, Don Colo, Bob Gain and Bill Glass. Linebackers were Jim Houston, Vince Costello and Galen Fiss. The defensive backfield included Bernie Parrish, Walter Beach and Larry Benz with Ross Fichtner and Erich Barnes splitting time as the remaining starter. Lou “The Toe” Groza did the kicking, Collins handled the punting and Kelly and Walter “The Flea” Roberts handled return duties. All were exemplary.
These Browns finished 14-2, outscoring the opposition 483-193, and hopefully bringing some joy above to Mr. Coleman, who bummed many a cigarette from me back in the ‘80s at old Municipal Stadium. And yes, we proved beyond all doubt that Tim Couch, if surrounded by the proper cast, could indeed be another Ben Roethlisberger! Couch compiled a quarterback rating of 85.5, including 22 TD passes against 10 interceptions. Best of all, he was sacked only 11 times! (How different would history have been if this were the case in the real world?)
Of course, it was hard for defenses to worry about Couch when No. 32 was running the ball 419 times for 2,539 yards (a 6.1 average) and 32 TDs! Green and Kelly were both effective in limited relief and third-down roles, while Kelly really distinguished himself by returning three punts for touchdowns and achieving a kick return-like average of 22.5 yards per punt return!
The schedule was sort of funky – opponents included the six newly acquired 1991 old-timer teams, the 2005 Bengals and Super Bowl champ Steelers and eight other 2005 teams. On Opening Day the Browns overwhelmed the Vikings, 62-10. Brown ran for 315 yards, including TD scampers of 53, 35, 38 and 35 among his five scores. In 43 years of playing Strat-O-Matic, I never rolled the dice better.
The Season’s Best Game May Have Been the First
My first game of 2007 had the 1973 A’s at the 1977 Reds. (Basic cards-and-dice league) The A’s chose Ken Holtzman to go against Tom Seaver of the Reds.
Bill North led off the game with a walk and the Reds chose to hold the AA stealer. Campaneris followed with a GB-A ++ which resulted in a single with North advancing to third. Bando rolled a pitcher’s X and the 20 sided die rolled an 11 for an error. The A’s take a 1-0 lead. Seaver K’d
But the one tainted run was enough for Holtzman. He struck out four of the first six Reds, had a perfect game for 5 1/3 innings and had faced only 27 men through 8 2/3 innings. Dave Concepcion broke up Holtzman’s no-hitter on a Single 1-12 roll. Ken Griffey’s clean single in the seventh inning was the only other hit Holtzman allowed.
Still, Seaver’s stellar pitching allowed the Reds to mount some drama in the bottom of the ninth-inning drama against Holtzman. Holtzman retired Concepcion and pinch-hitter Ray Knight for 2 quick outs, but Pete Rose and Griffey walked, putting the potential tying and winning runs on. Joe Morgan is up and 52-HR George Foster is on deck. But Holtzman got Morgan to ground out to the pitcher and the A’s win a 1-0 game that featured only three hits.
A’s 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1 1 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 2 3
WP Holtzman (1-0)
LP Seaver (0-1)
Maddux Improves with Age
Due to the ice here I was home from work. To get my three sons away from video games, I suggested we play some Strat baseball. We have a 3-team, 20-game league we have been slowly playing since last spring. Each of us chose two teams from 2005 – one NL, one AL. Their combined record must be .500 (or close to it). My oldest son took the Cubs and Rangers, my middle son the Marlins and Blue Jays, me the Nationals and Devil
Rays. My 4-year old rolls the dice and watches.
Today ended up being special. The Cubs/Rangers pitched Greg Maddux against the Marlins/Jays. Maddux retired the first 12 batters, walked Carlos Delgado in the 5th (who was quickly erased by a double play) and then retired the side in order in the 6th. After 6 innings, he had faced the minimum 18 batters and we all started getting excited.
In the 7th, Michael Young threw the ball away for a 2-base error, but Maddux still had his no-hitter. He retired the side in order in the 8th, then got the first two outs in the 9th. Juan Pierre was up and Got a SI 1-2 LO(2b) 3-20. As my son rolled the split dice, my palms started to sweat. I hadn’t had a no-hitter since Dave Hamilton did it in 1975. Since then, three potential no-hitters had been broken up with 2-out in the 9th. The split die rolled, paused, swayed, and stopped … on a 5! No-hitter for Maddux! My first in 32 years! It was vintage Maddux, doing the job with only 4 Ks, facing only 28 batters.
Here’s the line-up he no-hit: Pierre (CF), Luis Castillo (2B), Miguel Cabrera (LF), Delgado (1B), Shea Hillenbrand (3B), Reed Johnson (RF), Gregg Zaun (C) –
(injured and replaced by Paul LoDuca), Russ Adams (SS), AJ Burnett (P). Not great, but not easy, either! It was a thrill the ice storm of Valentine’s Day ‘07 made possible! Strat-O-Matic is great, you never know when it might create a nice memory.
Good Things Come in Threes
The Gentlemen’s Base Ball League has produced another first in our twenty-third season: 2006 Ryan Howard hit three home runs in a game in two consecutive games, as he marches toward the Rookie of the Year prize. Through 39 games his 14 homers pace the circuit. Coupled with 2004 Barry Bonds’ three-homer, two-grand-slam, 10-RBI explosion, Howard’s unique feat has gotten us off to another great season.
The Chapman Problem
The toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in all my Strat-O-Matic playing days is try to figure out how to kill someone.
Engrossed in a 56-game short-season 1920 schedule, I reached the time when the Cleveland Indians arrived for a series against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. This is when Ray Chapman was supposed to die.
In order to be true to the 1920 season, I had to make Chapman “disappear.” He died overnight in a
In the real game, Chapman was hit leading off the fifth inning, with the score 3-0
After striking out in the second inning, Chapman hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth. 3-0. Hm-m-m-m-m-m-m…the score is right…
But Chapman was not destined to bat in my fifth inning. He was doomed (?) to lead off the seventh.
In 1920, Mays had received the sign from catcher Muddy Ruel to throw a fastball. According to the description in Mike Sowell’s excellent book, The Pitch That Killed, Mays thought he detected a shift in Chapman’s rear foot. Chapman, regarded the best bunter in the league, also had a tendency to lean out over the plate in his stance. Mays reportedly decided to come up and in, a difficult pitch to bunt.
Ruel said later that, from his vantage point, the pitch was headed for the strike zone. From Sowell’s description:
“The ball sailed directly toward Chapman’s head, but he made no effort to move. He remained poised in his crouch, apparently transfixed as the ball flew in and crashed against his left temple with a resounding crack that was audible throughout the ballpark.”
The ball bounded toward Mays. He picked it up, thinking it had come off the bat, and tossed it to first base for the out. According to Sowell’s description, Wally Pipp had taken the throw and was prepared to toss it around the infield when he saw Chapman on the ground, and raced toward him. When Mays saw Pipp turn and run, he also turned and saw Chapman. Reportedly, Mays started to argue that the ball had hit the knob of the bat and that Chapman was out. While most of the players raced to the plate, Mays stayed near the mound.
Ray Chapman died at , baseball’s first on-field death. Manager Tris Speaker, who considered Chapman one of his closest friends, spent weeks mourning, in severe depression. Some days, he couldn’t find the strength to play. The early years are so fascinating, in large part because players were like family. That highlights how unique a loner like Mays was, a man who barely suffered even his own teammates.
I highly recommend reading the many baseball histories available, for an opportunity to more-fully realize just how great the Strat-O-Matic Baseball experience can be. If you thought you had the play-by-play working in your head before…
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
What follows is a severely truncated version of Woodhouse’s writeup of the Tribe-Yankees series finale. Woodhouse completed the four-game series by postponing game two at the Polo Grounds. The shattered Tribe dropped game three in listless fashion, 3-1.
Down innings, still reeling from the loss of shortstop Ray Chapman and the sudden departure of Tris Speaker, the devastated Indians fought back with four runs in the eighth inning and another eight tallies in the top of the ninth to upend the hometown Yankees, 13-11. It seemed an act of divine intervention.
The Yankees scored two runs in the first, added a pair in the third and doubled their lead in the fourth against Tribe hurler Slim Caldwell, while the Tribe was hitless.
Through seven innings, Yankees starter Ray Collins had allowed just one run on four hits and a pair of walks. In the eighth
Seldom-used Tony Faeth retired the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth without incident.
In the ninth,
Steve O’Neill greeted reliever Jack Quinn with a smash over weak-fielding CF Ping Bodie for a two-run triple. The Yankee lead was gone. And who better to step to the plate than Ray Chapman’s replacement, Harry Lunte.
Lunte ripped a Quinn fastball up the middle for a base hit and the go-ahead run, bringing Evans to the plate for his second pinch-hitting appearance of the inning. Again, he came through with a base hit, and Lunte then scored the final run on Jamieson’s fly ball to left.
Tribe ace Stan Coveleski finished the game in easy fashion, retiring three straight Yankees, completing his 10th shutout inning of the series. The winning pitcher, though spelled differently, was Tony … Faeth (don’t ruin the moment by wondering how it’s pronounced. Just go with it). Divine intervention, indeed.
A College Football Classic – The Hard Way
I recently had a Big Ten thriller.
In overtime, the teams missed a combined THREE field goals before
The story of the game was the ineptitude of the special teams.
The offenses were on fire, though, combining for 1,020 yards (MSU-522, Wisc-498).
College Ways, Opening Days, GPAs and Groundball As
I am a senior at the
Now for my (not so) Great Moments in Strat:
In the LCS of the league, my Mets (I am originally from Long Island) trailed 1-0 to the Cubs down 3 games to 2 and were down to the final out of their season in the top of the 9th. My friend Kevin decided to let Dontrelle Willis finish me off, but Manny Ramirez, 1-17 in the series thus far, cracked an undisputed 2-run HR to put me up 2-1 and keep my season alive. In the bottom of the 9th, Billy Wagner, who had been perfect the entire regular season, surrendered a game-tying HR to Ken Griffey Jr. Two hitters later, Ben Molina almost ended my season again, but missed a 1-16 HR chance. After dodging that bullet, I was able to score twice in the top of the 11th and hold on for the series-tying victory.
Unfortunately, after a tremendous pitchers duel between Roy Halladay and Johan Santana in Game 7, Wagner again surrendered a 9th-inning HR to Griffey. This one sent the Cubs to the World Series and left me wondering why I used my closer in a tied game on the road.
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
OPENING DAY HEROICS I
I am really enjoying playing the 1971 baseball game (cards only). In my first game with the new set, Phil Niekro of the Braves nearly threw a no-hitter against
out in the 7th, Gaston at the plate, the result was flyball LF (X). I knew there and then that the no-hitter would end! Ralph Garr might have been the “road-runner” on the bases, but he was notoriously slow-footed on defense, and Strat has him, fairly, I think, rated as
a “4.” Well, the result of the play ended up a double. Niekro ultimately gave up a single in the ninth, and the Braves won on his two-hitter, 3-0.
A few years ago, using the 1966 game (cards only), Sandy Koufax faced the Mets. First inning lead-off hitter Ron Hunt got an infield single. 27 batters later, Koufax finished his one-hitter. In his next start, Koufax retired the first 26 Cubs he faced, in order, until pinch-hitter Ron Santo broke up the perfect game with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth. Koufax had retired 53 batters in a row – no walks, no hits, no errors – and yet only had two one-hitters to show for it!
I have been playing Strat for years, and have probably had about a dozen one-hitters, but only one no-hitter (Joe Magrane vs Mets with 1987 set).
Jimmy, Jr., Lewisburg PA
OPENING DAY HEROICS II
One of my projects is a tournament, cards & dice, best-of-five series, using 128 teams. Eight teams from each of the years 1969 through 1984 – 16 sets issued before the ballpark and clutch effects were created. My most recent “great moment” occurred during the opening game between the ’72 Cubs and the ’74 Reds, Jenkins vs. Gullett at Wrigley. As is my tradition, I was playing this series on the Major Leagues Opening Day, while waiting for the day’s games to start.
It started ominously for the Cubs. Morgan led off with a double, Rose immediately singled him in. Driessen then hit into a dp, but in the process, Jenkins was injured on a 6-12 roll! On comes Rick Reuschel, a rookie at the time with the Cubs. He fans Bench to end the inning, and he and Gullett pitch shutout ball into the 6th, Reds still leading 1-0. Finally, in the 6th, the Cubs break through. A walk to Williams, a single by Cardenal, and RBI hits by Hickman and Kessinger put the Cubbies up 2-1. The Reds immediately tied it their 7th.
The bullpens then battled into extra innings. Perez hit a 2-run homer of Bonham in the Reds 8th, but the Cubbies tied it in their bottom half, on RBI hits by Kessinger and Monday off Clay Carroll. The game went to the 11th, tied at 4. With pinch-hitting, injuries (Kessinger hurt in the 10th) and defensive changes, the Cubs had very little left. It would be Aker forever on the mound for the Cubs.
The Aker-Forever strategy looked dismal in the Reds’ 11th. Bench walked, Perez singled, Foster hit a sac fly, and Geronimo tripled for the second time in the game. 6-4 Reds going to the bottom half. Still the Cubbies wouldn’t die. After a Beckert popout, Popovich and Santo singled. Williams flied out, but Cardenal’s single loaded the bases. J.C. Martin, due up, is a total zero against lefties, as is the rest of the Cubs remaining bench: Hiser has no obp changes, North and Hundley have barely more. All three are W power. So, Sparky replaces fatigued Clay Carroll with lefty Fred Norman.
Leo Durocher looks down his scantily populated bench, and finds Milt Pappas snoozing in the corner. Milt’s a 6N hitter, which isn’t much, but still better than anybody else he’s got left. I guess you know where this is going now: 2-12. Grand slam, and ballgame, 8-6 Cubs.
WHAT A RELIEF
After playing variations of simulated games for close to 35 years, I finally had my first no-hitter. Three Cardinal pitchers combined to beat the Braves 3-0. Chris Carpenter pitched the first 6 innings, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter with Mark Grudzielanek at 2nd and two out in the top of a scoreless 7th. The game remained scoreless until the 9th, when
CLEMENTE’S AND KOUFAX’ DAYS
I got into the game of Strat from a friend who loved Roberto Clemente and asked me over his house. We played one game with Clemente going against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals and I was hooked. True to what 13- and 14-year-old boys wish for, my Bob Gibson gave up a 2-run home run to Clemente en route to a 3-1 Pirates win.
Ever since, I have collected a few select seasons and have played shortened 40-game schedules, usually with 10 teams. The first season I bought was 1964 and I have added 1927 and 1941. My league allows for each present team in the league (I have used 1995, 1998, and 1999) to draft three all-time greats to boost their roster based, in order, on team needs, nostalgia (Willie Mays playing with Barry Bonds for the Giants, for example) and stats. A few years back we had Mark McGwire go for 22 HR and 53 RBI with 34 walks and we had Dean Chance go 9-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP (we have 4-man rotations) and we have had one no-hitter (Sandy Koufax out-pitching Juan Marichal 1-0 in a game that was won on small ball involving Willie Davis and Maury Wills).
Two days ago I had a moment that makes Strat stand out from any other simulation. Right now I have 20 1999 teams playing with their draft picks and the No. 1 starters pitched. The 1999 Cleveland Indians (with picks Sandy Koufax, Dick Radatz and Elston Howard) faced the 1999 Boston Red Sox (Babe Ruth, Yaz, Gaylord Perry) in Fenway with 1964 Koufax versus 1999 Pedro Martinez. Both pitchers pitched 10-inning one-hitters with
In my leagues, even though I am a Mets fan, the misery does not end for the Cleveland Indians. Back in 1997, the same year the Marlins beat the Tribe, the Indians lost in Game 7 to the Houston Astros when Ricky Gutierrez hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth to win the Series.
HOW MANY HOMERS?
In a game won by 1969
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
Why Can’t We All Have Days At Work This Good?
On Tuesday, May 15th against the Pirates, Hanley Ramirez was a triple shy of becoming the first ever Florida Marlin to hit for the cycle. When I saw the stat on TV that no Marlin had ever hit for the cycle, I was surprised, wondering how many other teams had not had a player hit for the cycle since the 1993 season.
Either way, I sat down on Wednesday, May 16th, to play a 2006 Marlins replay game at the New York Mets. Steve Trachsel took the hill for the New Yorkers and promptly surrendered a leadoff triple to Ramirez to start the game. The Marlins got to Trachsel for a 4-run 1st inning, bringing Hanley Ramirez up again in the 2nd inning where he hit a single to left field. Two innings later, Ramirez sent a Trachsel offering into the left field seats for a solo-HR. It was at this point that I realized that just one day after he almost did it in real life, Hanley Ramirez was on pace to hit for the
cycle in my Strat replay.
We go to the 6th inning where Hanley comes to the plate with two outs and
nobody on. Needing a double to hit for the cycle in just his 4th Major League game ever, Hanley rolled on Trachsel’s card. The result was something to the effect of DO 1-16, SI* 17-20. Anticipation built while the 20-sided die rolled around on the table … 11 ! Hanley Ramirez had just done something that no Marlin had ever done, and just one day after he nearly did so in real life! Hanley also came up in the 8th inning and walked, but couldn’t get up another time to try and get hit by a pitch. This whole incident got me thinking of several things:
How many other gamers have had someone hit for the cycle? I know we constantly hear the agony of gamers (like me) who have never experienced a no-hitter, but, this being my first ever time someone hit for the cycle, is hitting for the cycle in SOM also extremely rare? How many gamers have NEVER had that happen?
All of Hanley’s hits involved in hitting for the cycle came off of poor Steve Trachsel. How many times has one pitcher given up a single, double, triple, and homerun to the same batter in the same game? It’s not quite as bad as giving up back-to-back-to-back-to-back jacks, but it still would be pretty humiliating for a pitcher.
Finally, what is the all-time record for fewest cumulative MLB games before hitting for the cycle? If this had occurred in the same game in real life, it would mean that it took Hanley Ramirez just FOUR Major League appearances to hit for the cycle. It’s hard for me to believe that wouldn’t be the all-time record.
It is always said that Strat emulates real life, but this game was just flat-out scary considering he had nearly done it 16 hours before.
Wild Man Lets it Fly
In a recent Florida Marlins 2006 Replay game against the Chicago Cubs, Cubs relief pitcher Scott Eyre had some control problems. In fact, he walked Reggie Abercrombie, then proceeded to roll a split-die 1 on THREE CONSECUTIVE ROLLS. Since Eyre’s WP rating is a 20, Abercrombie made his way around the bases and scored before the next batter, Chris Aguila, had a chance to hit. Never seen that before.
5 No-Hitters and Counting in 1972 Replay
I have been playing the game since I was 12 and have never put it down since. I have been reading Great Moments in Strat for awhile and am amazed at the amount of people who have been playing for years and have had few, if any, no-hitters. I am replaying the 1972 season, the full 162 games, and I have had five no-hitters. In the National League, Ferguson Jenkins no-hit Cincinnati 9-0, Don Sutton no-hit the Giants 5-0, and in my only ever perfect game Steve Carlton retired 27 in a row to beat the Mets and Tom Seaver 1-0. What is especially heartbreaking is that Seaver allowed only one hit. In the American League, Roger Nelson no-hit the A’s 3-0 and Dave McNally no-hit the Red Sox 5-0. I am really lucky, I guess, to be blessed with having so many no hitters. They are truly exciting.
Christopher Van Hauter,
[Note from Glenn Guzzo: Although I have been on the winning and losing end of various no-hitters in draft leagues, no-hitters are easier to come by in replays. No-hitter droughts occur with gamers who play mostly in draft leagues, with collections of great teams, or in seasons known for their offense – such as the 1920s/1930s, 1961-1962 and the offense-charged seasons since the mid-1990s.]
More Thrills from the 128-Team Tourney
It seems like I have one of these every month! Either I’m really lucky, or I play a lot of games. Or both.
This month’s great moment came during my 128-team tournament, best of five series, cards and dice, using the "advanced only" teams from 1969 through 1984, eight teams from each year.
It was the opening game of the series between the 1977 Pirates (.593) and 1981 Phillies (.551), the 40th of the 64 series in round one of the tournament.
At a glance, it looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel, Steve Carlton (13-4, 2.42) vs. John Candelaria (20-5, 2.34). A closer look at the hitting cards, however, revealed that these two teams could clobber even the best of lefties.
Rennie Stennett (.336, 63 on-base chances vs lefties!) led off the Pirate first with the first of his five hits on the day, but
Meanwhile, the Pirates got to
Stennett led off the 9th with his 5th hit of the game, and Garner singled him to 3rd. Reed tired, Dave Parker at the plate, and here comes Tug! He fans Parker, but Robinson and Oliver get him for RBI singles, we’re all tied, 7-7, after 9.
Gossage and McGraw batted through a scoreless 10th, and Tug gets the first two Pirates in the 11th, but a hit by Parker and a double by Robinson make it 8-7, headed to the Phils’ last licks. Greg Gross led off the Phils’ 11th with a pinch-single, but the Goose fanned Unser and Rose, bring up Mike Schmidt with two out, and a man on first.
1981 was a monster year for Schmidt, batting a career high .316, 31 homers in just 354 ABs. Gossage was just as formidable in ‘77, 1.62 era in 133 innings, 151 strikeouts, just 78 hits. He has no hit chances vs. RHBs, just a couple of lonely walks. A classic confrontation, power against power.
1:5. Homerun, and ballgame, 9-8 Phils.
Jim Beauchemin, NY
V is for Victory Via Verdin
In a replay of the
In the 1st quarter, Verdin fielded a punt at his own 4 and sailed 96 yards for a TD. In the 2nd quarter, Verdin returned a punt 81 yards for another TD. Later in the 2nd quarter, Verdin decided to take it easy and coasted only 67 yards for a third TD.
The only other points the Colts put on the board was a meaningless 24-yard FG by Dean Biasucci late in the game. The only response from Mike Tomczak and the Cleveland Browns was a 5-yard TD pass to Michael Jackson and a 22-yard FG by Matt Stover, both in the 2nd half.
The final score:
I should add that I had tried to replay this game a couple of days before but made a critical mistake and gave up. Boy, am I glad I came back to this game and started over!
Short and Sweet!
I got a few new seasons rosters for my Computer Version 12 and wanted to do a short season. I started with the 1949 season, having each team play 12 games. Boy was it fun. And something that has never happened for me before – the winning team was unbeaten. And it was the Detroit Tigers winning the American League. They trailed several times, but they always found a way of winning – 12-0, amazing!
Cleveland and Chicago were next at 8-3, while the real
A Hockey Card More Legendary Than the Man
My friends and I started a league using the cards from the 1988/89 season (I believe). That year I had Barry Pederson, who had a Goalie Rating on a 5 on the Outside Shot. It became legendary.
We had 2 conferences of 6 teams and a 32 game season (own conference 4 games other conference 2 games). Top 4 each conference made the playoffs. 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 best of 7 series winners advance. My team, the Boomtown Rats, was playing poorly at the mid-point, in 5th place 4 points out of 4th.
This is when Pederson started to turn it on. For the second half of the season he carried the rest of the team. He had a fine pass and could walk inside admirably (if he so desired) but he seemed to have a goal seeking missile from the outside. The second last game of the season he scored a hat trick. All the goals coming from the outside! What was even scarier is that it seemed like every shot he took was a 5 on the Outside, even if he didn’t score he was putting fear into the opposing team. 1 game he had 7 shots and 6 scoring chances (5 Goalie Ratings + Goal 1-17(?)) he scored twice that game. He finished second in the league with 24 goals behind Mario Lemieux and his 29. The Boomtown Rats pulled a trade deadline deal dishing Joe Nieuwendyk for RW/RD Gary Leeman and G Bob Essensa. This cemented the Boomtown Rat’s rise. Pederson had been carrying the team and they managed to move into 4th by the trade deadline. Once they got Essensa and Leeman they became nigh unbeatable. They won the last 6 games of the season with the line of Bob Errey – Barry Pederson – Gary Leeman finding the clutch offense. Pederson got 4 game winners in those 6 games. Boomtown finished in second, 3 points back of
They swept their opponent (Brent City Rollers) in the first round 4-0 with games 1 and 2 going to OT. Pederson got the Game 2 OT winner again on the 5 from the Outside. Leeman got the Game 1 OT winner while playing the point on a fortuitous OT PP, he walked in from the point and scored, Pederson assisted.
Game 3 was a miracle game. Early in the first Essensa got injured in a goalmouth scramble after a rebound. Linseman was the likely culprit. No penalty on the play either. We got into penalty trouble and found our backup (Don Beaupre if I remember right) was unprepared and we found ourselves down 5-1 halfway through the second. Pederson picks up a loose puck and rifles it. SCORES! 5-2. He wins the faceoff and Leeman jumps on a loose puck with a clear path to the net but can’t beat the goalie, the rebound comes out and Pederson was there for the easy tap in. 5-3. The opponent takes a timeout and play ends 5-3 going to the third. An early goal by fourth liner Chris Nilan closes the gap to 5-4 but the opponent seems content to play the trap and give up the odd outside chance. Big Mistake! about halfway through the third Pederson collects the puck at centre and is being forced to the boards so he fires off a seeing eye puck that ties up the game! The hat trick for Pederson! The final minutes tick away trading chances but it looks like OT for the third straight game. Steve Larmer – Denis Savard – Dirk Graham line pulls the last card and get a shot from the outside. Save Faceoff! Pederson goes to the coach and says "Put my line out. We’ll end this". After a timeout, with less than 40 seconds on the clock, the Pederson line comes out but Leeman is at the right point and Larmer is on the right side. Pederson is facing off against a master, Ken Linseman. Pederson wins the draw back to Leeman who feeds a pass to Larmer. Larmer wires it but the goalie gets a piece of it. Somehow Pederson eludes The Rat and pokes it in with 2 seconds left! His 4th of the game and the winner!
Pederson had 5 goals 2 assists in the 4 games.
Next Opponent – The
The Gotham Ghosts pretty much went start to finish in first place. They have Messier, Yzerman,
Final Opponent – Les Canadiens de Montréal
This team isn’t as stacked as
In memory: Barry Pederson and the 5 on the Outside Shot.
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
A Replay Full of First-Time Events
Despite having played Strat C&D Baseball for more than a decade, my 2006 Marlins replay is my first serious replay of a team’s full-season schedule. In a season of many personal “firsts,” Braves hurler Jorge Sosa not only picked up a win while going 6 innings – giving up just 5 hits and 2 runs while punching out 6 – but in his two at-bats smacked home runs each time. Pitchers had only hit a homers three or four other times total, so I definitely had never had one hit multiple homeruns in the same contest.
Then, the Giants’ Ray Durham and Randy Winn, who are a combined 75 years old, turned the day after Memorial Day into Veterans Day, going a combined 9-for-10 while leading the Giants to an 8-2 thrashing of the Marlins. Most impressive was
I wrote earlier about Scott Olsen’s early-season hitting success. I’m trying to keep track of this as I am simply blown away by his hitting, even if it is early. Here’s his updated line through mid-May: 10-for-15 (.667), 1-2B, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K.
SOLO PLAY NOT SO LONELY AFTER ALL
As a Canadian Strat-O-Matic fan, my first SOM game was hockey. This year, I decided I had to try the original baseball game, dice and cards, and I’m certainly glad I did. I’ve played baseball myself for the past nine years, and I can support all of SOM’s claims to realism.
I held a 30-team solitaire draft when I first got the game, and with my Toronto Blue Jays picked 30th and 31st, then 90th and 91st, and so on. I emerged with a powerful pitching staff and bullpen, but a mediocre offense.
Today, I had a game in Yankee Stadium that went into the 15th inning. “King Felix” Hernandez went eight innings, giving up 10 hits but walking none and escaping with only two runs against. The Yankee starter, Cha-Seung Baek, went the same distance allowing only one run. Adrian Gonzalez hit a solo jack in the top of the ninth for the Jays, but Hernandez allowed a leadoff homer to Randy Winn so the score remained tied until the fourteenth, when my team managed another run, only to have Francisco Rodriguez allow the tying run in the bottom of the inning.
The top of the fifteenth was filled with action. Aaron Hill was hit by a pitch by reliever Todd Williams, got a good lead, but, unbelievably, was thrown out by weak-armed catcher Victor Martinez. Matt Stairs strode to the plate, slapped a single, and was followed by Dioner Navarro, a defensive replacement for pinch-hitter Ross Gload, who smacked a SINGLE**. I decided that, with Hanley Ramirez 0-for-6 in the game, drastic measures were needed. With the infield back for a possible double-play, Ramirez dropped down the suicide squeeze bunt to the pitcher. Matt Stairs came hustling down the line. The roll came up DEFENSE. After the adjustments, the split was 1-11 safe, 12-20 out. The dice came up… 2! With runners on first and second, Melky Cabrera lashed a SINGLE* past the infield, and closer Jason Isringhausen was brought in to face Alexis Rios, who showed his appreciation by smashing a bases-clearing double. As if this wasn’t enough, Adrian Gonzalez followed up with a two-run homer, his second blast of the game. The win was particularly satisfying, because my team had shown a frustrating inability to put up runs, leading to a 8-13 record to that point, including an 18-inning marathon I had lost to the Baltimore Orioles only five days before.
Playing Strat-O-Matic baseball in Canada can lead to some pretty lonely solitaire games, but games like the one I played today always make up for the lack of opponents.
Nathan Groot Nibbelink, Frankford, ONT
EXTRAS, EXTRAS! (Read All About Them)
I bought the 2000 and 2002 seasons at the end-of-year sale, so they came with those hundreds of additional players. I wasn’t going to do a replay, so they just sat there in one of my boxes. Then, my dad and I (he has played over 27 short seasons) decided to do a 10-team, 28-game season called the Additional Players League. It was like playing with minor league players, but turned out to be the most fun season I have ever had – truly awesome, breaking so many of my Dad’s and my own records.
Each team drafted 12 position players, 4 starters, and 6 relief pitchers. My dad doesn’t like using relief pitchers or bench players much, so we decreased the roster size (he likes the old days where everyone pitched complete games). We split the 10 teams into 3 divisions. The Pacific division had the Quakes, Mountaineers, and Lumberjacks. The Central Division had the Mud Hens, Blues, Mastodons, and Buffalos. The Atlantic Division had the Astronauts, Demons, and Meerkats. Dad had the 4 teams with "M" names.
The league had a grand total of ONE Hall-of-Famer: Tony Gwynn (2000) was drafted by Astronauts. Other well-known players were Rickey Henderson and Kenny Lofton (Demons), Richie Sexson (Quakes), Sandy Alomar Jr., Dante Bichette and Jason Schmidt (Mountaineers), Todd Walker (Mud Hens), Angel Berroa (Blues), Bartolo Colon (Mastodons, the combination card from when he won 10 games in each league), Jeremy Giambi and Flash Gordon (Buffalos), the 2002 Francisco Rodriguez ( 0.00 ERA in 6 IP, 13 SO from 2002) Jimmy Rollins, and Todd Hollandsworth (Meerkats). It was fun playing with a bunch of guys I’ve never heard of, like Clay Condrey and Mike Kinkade (Blues), Ozzie Timmons (Mastodons, had a .707 slugging %), and Roosevelt Brown (Mountaineers).
After starting the season 1-5, the Astronauts took off and won 13 of the next 14 games. They had an 8-game winning streak, ended up 17-11 and won the Atlantic division by 4 games over the Demons. The Quakes won the weak Pacific division with a 14-14 record. The Central division was the fun one. At mid-season, the Buffalos were the best team in the league at 10-4 with a league-leading 1000 runs (7.14 R/G), 40 doubles and 23 home runs, which also led the league. Leadoff hitter Hal Morris was hitting .361 with 19 runs, which led the league. They had six all-stars (Morris, Alex Ochoa, Israel Alcantara, Jeremy Giambi, Luis Pineda, and Tom Gordon). That would all come to a screaming halt. The Buffalos lost their last game before the all-star break, starting a 14-game skid, the longest losing streak of the season. They scored just 65 runs in the last 14 games and gave up 93. They had the second-worst pitching at the end of the season with a 6.22 ERA. Morris scored just 5 times in the 2nd half, Giambi lost 72 points on his average, and the team ended the season with four guys hitting under .230. Pineda went from a 3.27 ERA to 6.96 in just four more starts. Tom Gordon went from 0.00 ERA in 6.1 IP to 5.91 in just 4 1/3 more IP. The team at least ended the streak by winning the last game of the season, but finished the second half with a 1-13 record, and 11-17 overall, after going 10-4. I had never seen such a downward turnaround.
The three best teams still came from the Atlantic division, but only 2 could make it to the playoffs. With 3 games left, the Blues were 18-7, the Mud Hens were 15-10, and the Mastodons were also 15-10. The Mud Hens were both battling for the Wild Card playoff spot and a shot at first if they could sweep the Blues in the final series.
The Blues had MVP Mike Kinkade (58-118, .492 BA, 29 RBI) and Cy Young Clay Condrey (2.18 ERA, 7-0 record). Game 1 was a pitcher’s duel between the Mud Hens’ Jaret Wright and the Blues’ Paul Rigdon. Tied at 2 and in the top of the 10th, Cliff Floyd of the Mud Hens hit a homer and Rick White pitched a perfect 10th to give the Mud Hens the win. The Mud Hens also won Game 2, scoring four in the first inning off Calvin Maduro, getting a 4-for-5 day from Enrique Wilson and 12 strikeouts from starting pitcher Matt Wise, improved his record to 6-1. That setup a classic Game 3: If the Blues win, they are guaranteed a playoff berth. If the Mud Hens win, they win the division because they would have winning records against the Blues and Mastodons. That is plenty of motivation. The game went 11 innings, tied 4-4 for 6 innings. Bob Wickman pitched an amazing 5 perfect innings in relief and Ben Broussard came through in the top of the 11th like he did throughout the season with the two-run, game-winning double for the Mud Hens. .
More to come. Will the Mastodons make a run at the post season? Will the Quakes get to the World Series? What other kind of crazy things happened in this offense-happy season?
(To be continued next month)
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
HE’LL NEVER FORGET THIS ONE
My greatest Strat comeback ever. I was losing 8-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning with Aaron Heilman to start the inning against me. I quickly loaded the bases with two walks and a HBP and my opponent went to his lefty Dennis Reyes to face Jason Giambi, who then K’d. Next pitch: J. D Drew hits one out of the park for a grand slam, changing the score to 8-5 with 1 out. Reyes leaves and in comes J.J Putz, who is lights out! Chase Utley singles and Bandits owner J. Grace is noticeably upset, glistening in the forehead. At this point I am pulling out all stops, pinch-hitting for Aramis Ramirez with Adrian Gonzalez, who promptly delivers a ballpark single on 1-7. My opponent slams his fist down in disgust. Putz whiffs my next batter and then walks Furcal to load the bases with 2 outs. Putz, now fatigued, is relieved by A. Otsuka who gives up a deep blast from Paul Konerko to centerfield and over the wall to win it for the Fredricos, 9-8. Yes, I hit two grand slams in the 9th inning to comeback and win. After this devastating loss, the Bandits lost 7 in a row, and 10 out of 11 to fall to last place in our six-team, face-to-face Strat league. A ninth inning like none I ever experienced! It does not get much better then Strat-O-Matic Baseball.
PS: I have to comment on how nice it was to wait in line for 3 hours this past winter only to be invited into the headquarters and share a few great Strat moments with Hal Richman. It was an extreme treat.
The Sleepingbag Guy! James from CT
15 RUNS + 22 HITS = LOSS?!
A little less than a year ago, I wrote in explaining I had had my best game of Strat Baseball ever. Well, I just topped it. A seemingly innocuous matchup between the ‘06 Marlins and the ‘06
The Marlins quickly scored 4 runs off of the hapless Kim. In the bottom of the 4th, Garrett Atkins launched a grand slam to tie the game at 4. The Marlins responded by scoring 2 runs in the 5th, 3 in the 6th, and 2 in the 7th, while the Rockies scored 2 in the 6th and 1 in the 7th, giving the Marlins an 11-7 lead after 7 innings. In the top of the 8th, the Marlins appeared to put the game away by scoring 4 more runs, going ahead 15-7 with only 6 outs remaining for
But this is Coors Field. The
At least, that was the idea. After retiring J.D. Closser, Borowski ran into some trouble. Jamey Carroll and Corey Sullivan hit back-to-back singles, and a walk issued to Todd Helton loaded the bases with just one out. Borowski hit Matt Holliday with a pitch, plating Carroll, making the score 15-13, and loading the bases for, you guessed it, Garrett Atkins. I will give you one guess as to what happened. In the words of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas: “Swing and a long drive! It might be! It could be! It’s outta here!” Garrett Atkins’ third homerun of the night and SECOND grand slam spurred the
game in which they had 22 hits and led 15-7 after 7.5 innings.
The line score reads like something out of a video game. I’m not sure what the most total hits is in a 9-inning game, but the 40 total here has to be close. Absolutely incredible game that left me completely shocked to see my Marlins lose in such an unfathomable fashion. However, I’m quite proud of the fact that while I’ve never had a no-hitter (although I made it to the 8th the other day – closest I’ve ever come), I have now had a player hit multiple grand slams in a single game. Considering it has only happened 12 times in the history of Major League Baseball, it is even more unlikely than a no-hitter.
AMBULANCE DRIVERS MISSED MOST OF THIS GAME
My 128-team tournament rolls on, eight teams from each of the years 1969-1984. Some 24 of the final 32 slots are final. Eight best-of-five series to go in Round 2.
This morning’s match-up pits the ‘74 Cincinnati Reds (.605) against the ’79 Houston Astros (.549). Game 1 was a classic pitcher’s duel, JR Richard against Don Gullett. With one out in the 1st, Rose doubled, Driessen singled him in – and that ended up being the ballgame, Gullett blanking the Astros on three hits, making that run stand up for a 1-0 win.
Game 2, Joaquin Andujar against Clay Kirby. Morgan leads off the game with a homer. Later in the inning, Bench singled, and Geronimo tripled him in. 2-0 Reds, as the ‘Stros come to bat in the first. They’ve got their lineup loaded with lefties against Kirby, who gets Landestoy on a fly to right – and is injured! ! Lefty Fred Norman, who had been scheduled to pitch Game 4, comes in from the Reds bullpen. So much for that lefty-laden lineup! Howe and Pujols pinch-hit for a couple of those lefties along the way, but Norman breezes through six scoreless innings.
Meanwhile, Andujar retires the Reds in order in the 2nd, and gets Morgan to open the 3rd – on a , and HE is injured! Payback time for the platoon players – lefty Randy Niemann relieves for the ‘Stros, gets lefties Driessen and Geronimo as he retires the Reds in the 3rd and 4th. He faces
Sambito relieves the injured Niemann, and blanks the Reds through the 8th. Meanwhile, Nelson relieves a tired
Cinci goes quietly against Rick Williams in the top half. Tom Hall comes in to face the Astros righty-killers to start the 9th. But Landestroy singles to lead it off, and after a Puhl pop, Cruz walks. After 17 scoreless innings, can the ‘Stros break through? Clay Carroll relieves, facing Cedeno, who pops out. Two down. Art Howe is their last hope. Carroll gets him to hit a grounder to 3rd, where defensive replacement Darrell Chaney awaits. Two-base error! Landestoy scores, Cruz hustles over to third, Howe to 2nd. Nothing will be easy today, apparently. At least Carroll is not injured.
Enos Cabell steps in. 4:8. SINGLE* 1-16, lineout 17-20! Looks like we’re gonna have a tie game, with the lefty Reynolds coming up! The 20-sider rolls…… 19.
More from the 128-team tourney.
The ‘80 Reds, looking to become the 5th Reds entry in the final 32, nicked the ‘77 Orioles and Jim Palmer for single runs in each of the first four innings, and he left for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 5th. Meanwhile, Soto was cruising, with a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning. The O’s pushed across a run, but a second was thrown out at the plate by (+2!) Dave Collins. Meanwhile, McGregor held the Reds, so it was 4-2 Cinci into the 7th.
Then it all came apart for Soto. Bumbry singled, Singleton homered. (Too bad Bumbry’s nickname isn’t homer. Then it could’ve been Homer singled, Singleton homered.). Pat Kelly followed Singleton’s homer with another, and just like that, it was 5-4 Orioles.
On comes Orioles relief ace Tippy Martinez. Two quick outs, but then a single by Griffey and a homer by Bench! Cinci back on top now, 6-5.
With injuries and defensive subs, Cinci has only lefties left on the bench, with the pitcher, Geronimo and Griffey coming up. Mike Flanagan was scheduled to start game 4, but Earl knows an opportunity when he sees on. On comes Flanagan, he mows down three lefties, and the O’s win a barnburner, 7-6! One game to none. Can the rest of the series top this? I need a nap!
Nap over, and the rest was needed for this next one, in which the 1969 Giants (.556), one of the favorite teams of my youth , try to close out the 1975 Pirates (.571) in Game 4 of their series.
The Giants scratched across a run in the 1st, then McCormick and Kison traded goose eggs into the 4th. With the Giants shaky bullpen, disaster struck in the 4th, McCormick injured on a 6:12 roll. Bryant and Herbel held it through five, but it was still too early for McMahon, my one decent reliever, so I had to try Sadecki to quiet those powerful Bucco lefties. Into the 8th, he did, the Giants still holding on to that 1-0 lead. Robertson (computer card printed for this series) led off the Pirates 8th with a walk. Sadecki fanned Oliver, but Robinson’s flyball X eluded
Amazingly, that double was the Pirates’ only hit off Sadecki, who fanned 8 in 6 terrific innings, before giving way to McMahon in the 12th. Meanwhile, Kison, Moose, Tekulve and Ellis blanked the Giants. The game rolled into the 15th still tied 1-1.
Giusti in for
Nope. Parker singles, Sanguillen doubles, and a 3-run homer for Hebner in the bottom half. 5-5 after 16. Giusti and Linzy battle through the morning, into the 20th inning! With one out in the 20th, Hunt walks, and heads for third on Linzy’s single, but Oliver guns him down! Bonds walks, but
Finally, Linzy’s hits catch up with him. Robinson and Parker single, and Hebner, the hero of the16th inning, gets me again with a game-winning single. 6-5 Pirates in TWENTY innings.
To ensure that I finished my solitaire league (super-advanced, with cards and dice) with the “new” 1971 baseball set, I scheduled just a 20-game season, with each team playing the other five in its division four times. The top two teams in each division went on to a second round against the other three teams. Finally, the top team in each division met in a best-of-five Championship Series, just as in 1971.
The AL East top two teams were Baltimore and
The AL West top two teams were
The NL East top two teams were
The NL West top two teams were San Fran and
That was how the regular season ended in reality, except for the Angels. So, my compliments to Strat on the realism! But in early spring 1971 most writers actually predicted the Angels would take the division, so their finish in my league was of great curiosity and interest to me. The Angels had great pitching, and I ran Mickey Rivers and Sandy Alomar every time they were on base, regardless of the score, and generated a lot of runs that way.
The two division series pitted the Bucs against the Giants, and the O’s against the A’s. In game 5 of the NLCS, the Giants took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 8th, with Gaylord Perry on the mound. The Bucs scored one run. Going into the bottom of the 9th, with 2 out, reliever Jerry Johnson (Perry had been lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 9th) gave up a single to Rennie Stennett, plating two runs, and the score was tied 3-3. It stayed that way until the 14th, when Richie Hebner led off the Bucs’ half with a walk-off, pennant winning homer!
The World Series was a bit anti-climatic after that game. The A’s beat the Bucs 4-2, with Catfish Hunter winning two games, one a shut-out. Ironically, Vida Blue, the best pitcher in the set, lost both of the games that the Bucs won.
I recommend this set to all: the offensive weapons are very balanced – lots of fast runners who can steal, lots of HR hitters, good bunters; and the pitching vs. the hitting is very balanced, too. This balance makes for a lot of interesting and varied strategy in each game!
I can’t wait until 1951!
Jimmy Jr., Lewisburg PA
ADDITIONAL PLAYERS LEAGUE
(continued from last month)
So, the Mud Hens were in. They swept the best team in the league and won the division. The Blues had the best pitching with a 4.06 ERA, but only hit .267. Without Kinkade, the Blues would have hit .239. The Mud Hens had the third best hitting at .301, behind the Meerkats (.302) and the Mastodons (.305). The Mastodons also had the second best pitching at 4.68. They had the 20-game winning Bartolo Colon, but he ended up 3-4. The big starters for them were Mike Smith and Stan Spencer. Both finished at 5-1. Omar Infante was the singles hitting demon, ended up hitting .415 with 51 hits, but just 3 doubles and 1 triple. That’s 47 singles in 28 games. Not many can do that.
The Mastodons were facing the worst team in the league in the Lumberjacks, who were 9-16 and had the worst hitting at .240. The Mastodons won game 1 in crazy fashion. They were down innings. Spencer got bombed by the worst offensive team. Bad omen, right? He gave up 8 runs in 6 1/3 innings in a key game, including four homeruns. Two of those were by Alfonso Soriano, back before he was even a rookie. Look up the stats for 2000. They were not impressive in the least bit.
If the Mastodons lose 1 of these 3 games, they are out of it. A 6-run lead is safe, right? Not for the Lumberjacks’ bullpen. In came Scott Kamieniecki. He was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. That’s not bad. He was the ‘Jacks’ most reliable pitcher next to Sataru Komiyama (20 2/3 innings, 2.13 ERA in relief). Not today. It all started with a couple of walks, then it exploded so fast, the Lumberjacks manager didn’t have time to warm anyone up. Omar Infante hit a bases-clearing triple to get the score to 10-7. Hit after hit. Morgan Burkhart then knocked in the tying and the go-ahead runs on a 2-run single, making it 11-10. Another run would then come in. That was 8 runs in the top of the 9th inning without the help of a single homerun. Scott gave up 8 runs in 2/3 innings, walked 3, and somehow struck out 2. That 4.50 ERA Kamieniecki had? Gone. He finished the season with a gaudy 10.97 ERA. The Mastodons won 12-10. All of the sudden, it seemed possible.
In game 2, the Lumberjacks scored in the top of the 9th to give the Jax a 7-6 lead and brought in their closer, Villafuerte. Another comeback victory in the 9th inning? You bet. Villafuerte couldn’t save it either, as Julio Ramirez hit a 2-run single to win the game. That was the team’s 8th blown save of the season. 3 pitchers blew more than one and that was Villafuerte’s 3rd…in 6 games. The Lumberjacks’ bullpen was a terrible 1-6 with a 6.14 ERA. It was a hitter’s league.
The Mastodons then cruised to an 8-2 win in game 3 to finish off their season at 18-10. All 3 teams in the Central division finished at 18-10. This is where the technical fun comes in.
Earlier in the season, the Mud Hens took 2 of 3 from the Mastodons, so they had a better record. Then, they swept the Blues, to be a combined 5-1 against the other 2 teams. So, the Mud Hens won the division, and would face the 14-14 Quakes in the first round of the playoffs. The Wild Card spot was the only one left. The Blues won the season series 2-1, but you can’t just give it to them. They had to earn it in a one-game playoff with the Mastodons. Bartolo Colon vs. Clay Condrey, who was 6-0 with one of the league’s six shutouts. It was the expected pitchers duel until Glenallen Hill had an RBI double to give Condrey the lead he needed. Then, Hill hit his 13th homerun of the season and drove in his league-best 43rd and 44th to give his Blues a 4-0 victory and Condrey the Cy Young award.
The playoffs were all lined up. Blues vs. Astronauts and Quakes vs. Mud Hens.
The Astronauts continued their late-season dominance, taking Game 1, 5-3 thanks to a John Jaha double. (Jaha, by the way hit just .175, but had a .398 OBP in 2000, he was fairly accurate. He hit .139, but walked 45 times in 28 games, shattering the previous 28- game record, and was a fun leadoff hitter.) The Astronauts rolled over the Blues 12-1 in Game 2. It was a best of 5 series, so 1 more win and the Astronauts go from 1-5 all the way up to the World Series. Will the laughing stock of the first week of the season beat out powerhouse Blues and the Mud Hens, who had 7 players hit over .300? You’ll have to wait until next time.
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
The Crowd Was Online
After this classic, Mark Lundberg reports, “It took me two hours and a
2005 Steelers (Frank Renbarger) @ 1957 Colts (Mark Lundberg) in the PSL2 League
The Colts took the opening kickoff 71 yards on 10 plays, closing it out with a 3-yard pass to Alan Ameche. Pitt went three and out, so I’m feeling pretty good – but that would be the last time Frank failed to score in the first half until he was stopped by the gun. I only managed one first down on my second possession, and Frank knotted the score to start his incredible 2nd quarter with a 9-yard, third-down TD run by Willie Parker. The next Colts drive resulted in another TD, this time as Lenny Moore that helped me overcome two 15-yard holding penalties in the same series.
The Colts’ defense stiffened in the third quarter, holding the Steelers to two three-and-outs, while the
Frank moved 48 yards in two plays, but the third play was a disastrous Verron Haynes fumble, well within FG range, at . At that point I decided to play conservative and not tempt fate too much. Johnny U. has been wonderful for me and was again in this game, but Frank was sitting on the pass now, and I figured a couple of shots by Lenny Moore on probable Wrong calls would either move the ball or kill the clock. Unitas is also interception prone in ‘57. First try got me 4 yards, but fatigued
Well, what I got was a lost fumble at my 37. Frank then hit me with a LG on a short pass to Randle-El to my 4 off of his receiver card. Frank decided then to kill clock via kneeling for 2 plays and running Bettis the 3rd. It was a good plan, and the correct one with a 2-10 kicker. Assuming he makes it. Which he didn’t. I threw one pass with Unitas, it didn’t work, so with only seconds left from my own 20 and no timeouts I took the coward’s way out, and brought in George Shaw to kneel down. I WAS NOT going to tempt the Strat Gods after the huge break of the missed 2-10 FG by Reed. No OT in 1957, so it goes into the books as a tie. Fitting in my opinion, too.
Paul Wilson’s Flirtation with Immortal Fame
I’ve played a solo draft league called The QL with every new season card set since 1987. Using the 2004 cards, Paul Wilson pitched 8 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before surrendering a home run to Michael Tucker.
The QL has 20 teams, 10 AL and 10 NL and does not allow inter-league play. I’m still on 2004 because my wife and I have had two boys over the past three years. This was almost the first QL no-no since Jack McDowell had one during a pennant race back in ‘97, his team, The Manassas Bulls went on to win the World Series that year, with Barry Bonds as the team’s leading hitter.
The 1920 NL Takes a Mind off the Present, for a Time
When times are tough, you need to be able to step away now and then, and Strat has been a big help. My father’s recent medical problems meant distractions, trips to and from hospitals and whatnot, so my 56-game 1920 season replay was a Godsend.
The National League pennant race was something quite different than what happened in real life. The ‘20 SOM Dodgers just didn’t have what it takes, and were left way behind by the Giants and Reds. As it turned out, the race was one for the Ages.
First, the team that is supposed to be winning is dead last. In a tailspin of epic proportions, the Dodgers (15-25, 12 games back) have completely bottomed out and now must look up to even catch a glimpse of the Braves and Phillies. I know they’re not a powerhouse team, but they were not bad. This has opened the door for a killer two-team pennant race between the Reds and Giants.
The Reds ripped off 10 straight wins and bolted from the gate to an 11-1 start. In there was a 4-0 sweep of the Dodgers, the first of two, as it turned out. This start-of-a-new-lively-ball-era-version Red Machine looked as if it were out to prove the critics wrong, that they were good enough to topple the infamous “Black Sox” on the strength of their own talent.
Meanwhile, John McGraw was chomping at the bit for
Now, after another 12 games (40 games in), we have a dead heat. Actually, we’ve had that dead heat now for the last seven games! Every day. Like clockwork: win-win…loss-loss…win-win…win-win…win-win…win-win…win-win. A sample:
WP: Ring (6-2)
LP: Grimes (5-5)
WP: Nehf (6-1)
LP: Wisner (0-2)
WP: Ruether (5-4)
LP: Cadore (2-5)
WP: Barnes (7-2)
WP: Eller (5-3)
LP: Pfeffer (3-4)
WP: Winters (1-0)
LP: Ponder (2-3)
Mustering only seven base hits in the first 11 frames,
WP: Fisher (5-0)
LP: Marquard (4-4)
WP: Nehf (7-2)
LP: Carlson (4-3)
Yet, down 2-1, having collected a mere six singles in eight innings, the Giants still found it in themselves to rally for three runs in the top of the ninth and claim a 4-2 win in their series finale. A sweep, and yet another day tied with
What a way to set the stage for the next stop on the schedule:
I can imagine in real life, expending the energy needed down the stretch to capture the league flag, then simply not having enough left in the tank. That seems to be exactly what happened, when the Giants met the well-rested Indians in my World Series.
As I was going through the season stats, I found some wonderful odd and ends:
— 54 at bats without a strikeout by rookie shortstop Joe Sewell of
— Bill Lamar of the Dodgers had seven hits (in 22 at bats) – all doubles! Hob Hiller of the Red Sox was 3-23 – all triples!
— Both leagues had Triple Crown-winning hurlers. Grover Cleveland Alexander (12 wins, 70 strikeouts, 1.38 ERA) in the NL and Stan Coveleski (10 wins, 56 strikeouts, 1.90 ERA) in the
— The Reds boasted four starters with seven wins (Jimmy Ring, Dutch Ruether, Dolf Luque and Ray Fisher).
— White Sox hurler Dickie Kerr surrendered 126 hits and 74 runs (56 earned) in just 86 innings. Erik Erickson of the Senators walked 66 batters in 84 innings.
— Me ‘n’ McGraw: Just as I rolled the Giants to a surprise World Series win over the Athletics in my 1911 season, I managed to win the NL pennant with the ‘20 edition. I had the “magic dice” rolling for three key replacements in the second half: Lee King (.295/.256 in real life), Fred Lear (.304/.253) and Vern Spencer (.264/.200). King replaced the deposed Benny Kauff, Lear covered for injured (out of ABs) Frank Frisch, and Spencer covered when King went down (ran out of ABs).
— The top of the
— As the “Black Sox” rumors swirled all around his White Sox teammates, Eddie Collins put on a 17-35 (.486) push over eight games to take the lead in
— Tris Speaker hit .388 in 1920. In my season, he finished at .389 (.38888…).
— Buck Herzog was released late in the 1920 season, ending his impressive career. He hit .193 for the season. In the replay, Herzog was mired in season-long slump, hitting just .135 (10-74) after 22 games. He got hot, putting on a 12-40 rush (.300) to finish at … 193.
— The middle of the St. Louis Browns’ lineup featured George Sisler (.386), “Baby Doll” Bill Jacobson (.302), Jim Tobin (.368) and Ken Williams (.316). Earl Smith (.296) and Jimmy Austin (.330) were next, splitting time at third.
— The White Sox started the season 1-11, then went 30-13 the rest of the way.
— As my 56-game season didn’t adhere to actual schedules, the White Sox were at
I’m now into 1927. The Babe is boppin’, as is practically everyone else. I only wish 1924 was available before I got to ‘27. I’d love to see some the same continuity that fans of later seasons get. From ‘11, to ‘20, to ‘27, only a handful of players bridge the gap.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for helping me make the most out of what has been a very difficult year. Dad is getting better, little by little, since his gall bladder put him in the hospital on New Year’s Day (a day after my mother-in-law passed in Philly, no less). Things were worsening for quite some time, due to various complications that kept cropping up. Always, though, Strat was there when I got home at the end of another long day, my ballpark beckoning.
I took the liberty of re-christening
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
One Great Moment After Another – For Nearly 20 Years
I stumbled across an advertisement in Baseball Digest in summer 1978 for a game called Strat-O-Matic Baseball. I quickly sent away for the free brochure, then begged my mom and dad to purchase the game for me and my two younger brothers (we were 10, 8 and 7). We weren’t very well off and mom and dad weren’t too trusting of the
Christmas – 1979 – we received from my grandparents Strat-O-Matic Baseball. It was the best Christmas ever! It came with two teams, the 1977 Texas Rangers and 1977 Philadelphia Phillies and a coupon for six free teams. We sent away for the Pirates, Orioles, Tigers, Reds, Dodgers and Giants and eventually over the coming months had a complete 26-team league. We played these cards every chance we had. Our youngest brother loved the Pirates and frequently would have Kent Tekulve – his favorite pitcher –start many a game (even though he was a reliever). Unfortunately, Brad died in a car accident a couple of years later. He was only 11 years old.
Fast forward to August 2007 – my other brother who lives 1,000 miles away comes to visit with his family. He has an 11 year old boy as do I. I pull out the cards and dice and my son chooses the 2006 Yankees and his son the 2006 Red Sox and we teach them how to play. The Red Sox cruise to an 8-3 win but in the eighth inning my son decides to bring in Mariano Rivera – I look over at my brother – and he says – “well at least he didn’t start him.” We both chuckled with tears welling up in the eyes remembering Brad always wanting to start Tekulve.
I’ve played hundred of Strat-O-Matic games, mostly now just on the computer. I can’t really pinpoint one specific game as being my Greatest Strat Moment – but what I do remember is the great time I had and still have spending time, sharing laughs and tender moments with my best friends – my brothers!
GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
The Greatest Moment Ever?
This happened 37 years ago, way back when I was 13 or 14. We had an eight-team neighborhood league without a draft, and I ended up with the 1969
Déjà vu in Another ‘60s Flashback
I have been a SOM Baseball fan and user since 1968. I shifted to the computer version a few years ago as I no longer have the time to painstakingly keep manual track of the schedules, standings, and stats. I have had my share of no-hitters, incredible comebacks, and exciting games, but nothing will ever compare with the very first game I ever played.
We flash back to 1968 in
Needless to say, I was hooked from that day and almost 40 years later still can’t wait for the new version to come out. I am always amazed when I meet other fathers or fellow co-workers who are baseball fans that they also have a passion for SOM.
Frank C. Garcia, Atlanta, by way of the Bronx
Computer Helps Him Relive His Earliest SOM Days
I took my old basic cards for the 1962 National League season, and entered the card readings into the 1962 advanced season computer roster, to play a modified basic season. It takes about an hour per team, using the old DOS SOM Utility with its wonderful copy left side to right feature, then copying the files on over to the CDROMBB directory. But the result is the best of both worlds – e-ratings, throwing arms, pitcher fatigue, the computer keeping all the stats and managing the other team – but using those great old basic cards, just the way they looked way back in the spring of 1963. A few additions were necessary – adding ten POW dots to each pitcher’s card, filling in outfield locations for singles, that kind of thing. And, of course, the much beloved triple splits don’t fit into the new game. All minor stuff, and easily addressed.
Finally, this weekend, we were ready to play. The Giants opened at Candlestick – ballpark revised to look the way it did back then, thanks to an old picture found in a Giants yearbook. Juan Marichal against Warren Spahn; Mays vs. Aaron. The Giants won a slugfest, 8-7, but the thrill wasn’t in the game, as good as it was. It was in seeing and using those great old basic cards again, while still using the computer for dice rolls, player pictures, scorekeeper and umpire. The best of the old world, and the best of the new world! I do enjoy the lefty-righty splits, and most of the other advanced and super-advanced features, and I use them in most of my leagues and tournaments. But for this old-time gamer, there still is magic in those old basic cards! For 1962 at least, this year they live!
Jim Beauchemin, NY
Magic vs. Bird Couldn’t Have Been Better
This was part of a replay of my 1981-82 Los Angeles Laker replay. I took over after the 11th game, just as Pat Riley did in real life. What happened was perhaps the greatest Strat basketball game I have ever played. And I’ve been playing since 1984.
In my replay, I allow the computer to determine for both teams who is eligible to play. I was horrified to watch as the computer made Magic Johnson ineligible.
Bird hits two free throws with left and
I’ve played literally thousands of games in Strat hoops. This has to be the best ever for a variety of reasons. It’s
198182N 532 Sunday, February 7th 1982 LOS ANGELES at BOSTON
—-FG— —3PT— —FT— REBOUNDS
NAME MIN MD AT PCT MD AT PCT MD AT PCT OF DF T AS PF ST TO BK PTS INJ
K.ABDUL-JABB 30 10 15 67 0 0 3 3 100 2 7 9 3 5 1 3 3 23 0
J.WILKES 32 9 17 53 0 0 2 4 50 0 2 2 2 6 1 2 0 20 0
N.NIXON 42 7 15 47 0 0 3 3 100 0 3 3 21 3 2 5 0 17 0
M.COOPER 27 3 7 43 0 0 4 4 100 1 2 3 3 4 1 2 0 10 0
K.RAMBIS 13 1 1 100 0 0 0 0 2 1 3 0 3 1 2 0 2 0
M.LANDSBERGE 10 1 3 33 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 0
E.JORDAN 25 9 11 82 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 8 4 3 1 0 18 0
J.BREWER 5 1 1 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
M.KUPCHAK 38 10 19 53 0 0 1 2 50 2 4 6 1 5 3 1 0 21 0
M.McGEE 18 2 7 29 0 0 1 2 50 2 0 2 0 2 1 0 0 5 0
LOS ANGELES 48 53 96 55 0 0 14 18 78 11 23 34 38 34 13 16 3 120
—-FG— —3PT— —FT— REBOUNDS
NAME MIN MD AT PCT MD AT PCT MD AT PCT OF DF T AS PF ST TO BK PTS INJ
L.BIRD 42 14 23 61 0 3 0 9 10 90 2 6 8 9 2 1 4 0 37 0
R.PARISH 35 8 13 62 0 0 3 4 75 3 8 11 3 4 2 3 1 19 0
C.MAXWELL 35 3 8 38 0 0 8 13 62 3 8 11 4 5 2 5 1 14 0
K.McHALE 24 3 5 60 0 0 2 2 100 0 7 7 1 2 0 2 2 8 0
T.ARCHIBALD 30 5 7 71 1 1 100 0 0 0 1 1 8 3 0 5 0 11 0
G.HENDERSON 20 6 6 100 0 0 1 2 50 1 0 1 3 4 1 1 1 13 0
C.FORD 18 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R.ROBEY 13 2 4 50 0 0 5 6 83 1 2 3 0 4 1 1 0 9 0
D.AINGE 15 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 4 1 1 1 0 0 0
T.DUEROD 8 3 7 43 0 1 0 1 2 50 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7 0
BOSTON 48 44 76 58 1 5 20 29 41 71 10 33 43 32 26 8 22 5 118
SCORING SUMMARY 1 2 3 4 OT T
LOS ANGELES 18 40 31 31 120
BOSTON 28 25 30 35 118
LOS ANGELES BOSTON
Fast Break Pts 20 Fast Break Pts 34
Points in the Paint 42 Points In the Paint 26
Biggest Lead 10 Biggest Lead 13
STAR OF THE GAME
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!