GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
THE TWISTS OF JOHN SMOLTZ` FATE
The Gentlemen’s Base Ball League is in its 24th. The league is a four-team, face-to-face computer league comprised of twenty-five-man rosters drawn from all of the players from the four most recent big league seasons. We are currently using players from 2004-2007.
Veteran pitcher John Smoltz is in his 15th year in the league, and his most noteworthy “accomplishments” are that he is the career (142) and single-season (23) record holder for wild pitches. John hit rock bottom recently in a five-inning starting effort in which he was reached for nine earned runs on ten hits, after which his ERA rose to 6.54.
Two games later, his teammates hit four consecutive home runs (`05 Brian Giles, `04 Jim Edmonds, `06 Jim Thome, and `04 Adam Dunn) against `04 Jason Schmidt in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase a 3-0 deficit. They held on to win, 4-3. After the game reporters quizzed John Smoltz about this remarkable feat, because he also coughed up four straight homers in a game early in his career, as was reported in Strat Fan. Although Smoltz graciously fielded the paparazzi’s questions, he seemed saddened to have to recount a bitter memory that seems to resurface all too often.
Five days later, the Worthington Warriors’ `05 Smoltz took the hill against `07 Jake Peavy and the Picktown Victors. Smoltz proceeded to retire the first nine men he faced, before he passed Bobby Abreu. Abreu walked again later in the game, and Lance Berkman also walked. Grady Sizemore was hit by a pitch. Lo and behold, those were the only batters to reach base, as Smoltz fanned six and threw a total of 112 pitches in reeling off the league’s eleventh no-hitter in a 2-0 win! Abreu and Sizemore were caught stealing once each, so Smoltz only faced twenty-nine batters in a crisply played two-hour-and-five-minute game before 43,165 delighted hometown fans. The park is `05 Seattle.
Picktown’s starting lineup included `04 Bobby Abreu, `06 Grady Sizemore, `07 Carlos Pena, `06 Lance Berkman, `06 Joe Mauer, `06 Jose Reyes, `04 Eric Chavez, and `05 Luis Castillo. `07 Magglio Ordonez pinch-hit for Peavy after Peavy had batted once, and `07 Jeff Keppinger later pinch-hit for `06 Francisco Liriano.
The season number and the authors of the previous no-hitters are: 1-Sid Fernandez, 2-Frank Viola, 6-Sid Fernandez, Mike Moore, 8-Ramon Martinez, 11-Roger Clemens, 12-David Cone, and 21-Pedro Martinez-2, Curt Schilling.
Richard Zaborsky, Dublin, OH
DIAMONDS WERE HIS BEST FRIEND
This isn’t my story but that of a friend of mine (John Harris, who was a popular DJ on Maryland’s Eastern Shore until recently changing jobs). If memory serves – I hope I’ve gotten this one right! – he was locked in a tight five-game playoff with another player using the 1989 cards. It came down to the bottom of the ninth inning of the final game; John had a 7-5 lead, but his opponent had the bases loaded with no outs. The next batter got a ballpark homer, and the chances of a homer were 1-15 (was it Atlanta?) The guy rolled a 16; a sacrifice fly scored the run, but John still held the lead at 7-6. The next batter also got a ballpark homer, and rolled an 18 for a fly out. Two outs, and would you believe the next batter also got a ballpark homer. The guy then rolled for the play that would decide the playoff once and for all … 20!
Three straight ballpark homerun chances, with each one having a 75% chance of his opponent winning the game and playoff, and John survived all three of them to go to our World Series, which he also won. The odds of having survived all those ballpark homers was just one in 64.
P. Sean Bramble, Dazaifu, Japan
WHITEY AND THE WHIZ
Well, Ladies and Gentleman, this one is for history. Playing my beloved 1950 New York Yankees against the “Whiz Kids” the 1950 Phillies. Starting Hall of Famer Robin Roberts for the Phillies against “The Chairman of the Board” Whitey Ford. Up to the first half of the 6th the teams exchanged zeroes but the Yankees left lots of runners in base including a 3-on-and-none-out situation that Roberts got out of with of all people a double play groundball from Joe DiMaggio. Finally the Yankees got a run on the top of the 6th with Gene Woodling homerun and added another run in the top of the eighth.
By the seventh inning I noticed the no-hitter going so I did not want to jinx the game by not looking at the score on the board. Finally the 8th inning went 1-2-3. Then came the ninth inning. The Phillies were home team, (I did not want somebody to say the Yankees had the advantage) ha, ha. It was the top of the lineup with Eddie Waitkus who hit a popup to the “Scooter” Phil Rizzuto. The second batter, Gran Hamner, hit a groundball to Joe Coleman for the second out. Here I was biting my nails like crazy. Here comes Richie Ashburn who hit .303 that year and was a hitting machine over his career. Left-handed pitcher vs. left-handed batter, here it comes and Ashburn hits a pop fly to 1st baseman Johnny Mize for the third out! My second no-hitter in 42 years of SOM playing. Wow, I love this game! Can’t wait to get the new Version 14!
Orlando Leon, Polk City, Fl
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Just downloaded the 1930 Negro League from Gary Simonds` page and it was quite a thriller with the St. Louis Stars of the Negro League losing to the NY Yankees on a dramatic walk-off base hit by none other than The Babe.
St. Louis took a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning as they knocked Lefty Gomez out of the box. But the Yankees` relief pitcher, George Pipgras, helped his own cause with not one but two homers. This is a Strat-O-Matic first for me as I`ve never had a pitcher hit two homers in one game. Truly amazing. It was a seesaw battle as both teams exchanged leads numerous times. It was tied 8-8 in the ninth inning when the Babe ended it all.
THE STARS ARE OUT
I am playing the divisional all-stars of 2008 – the best players of the six divisions making up a league, and a season of 160 games. I am the American League East manager. On opening day, my squad walloped the NL East, 10-2. Here are some of the highlights from that game.
Welcome to Camden Yards, the home field of the AL East all-Stars. Roy Halladay will face this lineup:
Carlos Beltran CF
Chase Utley SS
Ryan Howard 1B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Carlos Delgado DH
Pat Burrell LF
David Wright 3B
Jorge Cantu C
Shane Victorino RF
Johann Santana will get the opening-day start for the NL East to face this lineup:
Alex Rios CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Kevin Youkilis DH
Jason Bay LF
Nick Markakis RF
Derek Jeter SS
Dioner Navarro C
After Halladay retired the NL in order in the first inning, the AL East touched Santana for four runs. With two out, Rodriguez singles, Pena walks and Youkilis hits a single to right to chase Rodriguez home. Santana issues ball four to Bay to load them up. Markakis then hits a double in the gap. Pena and Youkilis score easily and Bay slides in under the tag for the fourth run.
In the top of the fourth, Chase Utley takes Halladay deep for the only home run of the game to cut it to 4-1. But the AL leads go to 6-1, 8-2 and 10-2. Halladay goes the distance, allowing two runs, both earned on five hits, walks one batter and strikes out seven, throwing 112 pitches.
Daniel Champagne, Springfield, MA
JOHN MABRY’S DREAM
I have enjoyed Strat-O-Matic since 1972. I introduced my son to it in 2005. We recently decided to replay the 2004 Boston-St. Louis World Series, won by Boston 4 games to 0. What a change from the actual results, and what an unexpected hero!
Game 1: John Mabry is the DH, batting against Pedro Martinez in the 3rd. He knocks a 3 run HR, but Boston prevails 12-4. Game 2: Mabry stands in against Curt Schilling in the 5th, and smacks a 2 run HR, helping St. Louis win 4-2. Game 3: Mabry, playing LF now, is a little more subdued, matched against Derek Lowe. But he does produce an RBI single in the 2nd, and St. Louis wins 5-4. Then the real fireworks started. Game 4: In the 3rd, in a rematch against Martinez, Mabry is up in the 3rd with Renteria, Rolen and Walker on ahead of him. Bang, there it goes, a grand slam HR! It sparks the Cardinals to an 8-6 win. And then Game 5: In the deciding 6th inning, Mabry again comes to the plate, pitted against the struggling Curt Schilling, with Edmonds, Pujols and Rolen aboard. He finishes his World Series heroics by blasting another grand salami, putting Boston to rest 7-1.
For the series Mabry finishes with a .350 batting average, with 4 HR and 14 RBI in a five-game series. He must be the reincarnation of Gene Tenace!