22
June

TBL Baseball Annual provides reading pleasure once again

tbl logoFor your reading benefit, I submit the Transcontinental Baseball League’s Annual publication courtesy of TBL manager and Annual editor Walter Hunt.  The TBL Baseball Annual is one the best testaments to APBA league play and honestly rivals most of the publications that cover MLB. 

The 134-page Annual is written with statistical analysis, comprehensive writeups and a dose of humor to keep it real.  This year’s edition reveals that the TBL will be going through a realignment.  Big news for a league that has been around as long as the TBL. 

The TBL Baseball Annual is APBA League documentation done right.  It’s almost as if Walter Hunt had experience as a writer or something

Great job, TBL!

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13
June

Founding manager of IAL comes out of retirement, still wins

DennisToday, the mentor returned to teach the apprentice a lesson. 

The Illowa APBA League is happy to welcome back Dennis Jennings as a co-manager of the Colona Hustlers.  Dennis helped found the Illowa APBA League in 1975 and is returning to the league after a 28 year hiatus. 

You may recognize the name of his former team.  It’s the Twin City Thunderchickens. 

How did I end up with the Twin City Thunderchickens?  It’s a sordid history involving me going off to college, sowing my wild oats and falling off the grid.  A girl may have been involved (I know better now, guys). 

When I came to my senses a year or two later in 1989, Dennis had moved out of state and there was need for a manager to take over his team, the Twin City Thunderchickens.  The IAL managers graciously let me in and I have faithfully served as a IAL manager since.  I didn’t have the heart to change the Thunderchicken name since it is one of most original names I know of. 

When I knew him, he was a brilliant professor at the University of Illinois where I was a student.  While his professional knowledge of math and statistics served him well in APBA, he was still laid back and a genuinely a nice guy.  He was also a successful APBA manager.  He built up a APBA dynasty of solid hitting and pitching plus outstanding defense.  His mainstays were Sundberg, Garvey, Grich, Baines and Gibson.  Dennis placed first in the IAL standings SEVEN times between 1976-1988 including a then record of 115 wins in 1985. 

Now Dennis is back and has more time for APBA.  He faced off against me and his old team as co-manager of the Colona Hustlers(along with his partner Dan Bunch).  We played remotely as Dennis is I believe the winning common denominator here was Dennis as it was he who won six out of nine games.  Not surprisingly, Dennis commented on the Hustlers’ good defense.  In fairness, Jose Altuve’s good bat probably a lot too.  My Thunderchickens tried their best to make a good impression on their old owner.  The team hit 15 homers including 5 by Asdrubal Cabrera in the first six games.  

Regardless of the score, it was great to play an old friend even it was over Skype.  Dennis seemed to have a lot of fun rediscovering the game and its new changes.  Afterwards, we chatted about old times.  It was Dennis who drafted Mark McGwire who had a very storied career for my Thunderchickens

Sorry Dennis, your Thunderchickens. 

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9
June

Not quite for Cuellar’s almost no-no, Marichal comes out the victor

cuellar

juan_marichal

It was almost like Haddix and Burdette all over again.

It was June 8th in my 1966 NL replay and the Giants were at the Astrodome.  A pitchers’ duel was imminent with hurlers Juan Marichal (AXZ) and Miguel Cuellar (AXZ) pitching for their respective teams.  But I had no idea what I was in for. 

Astros’ starter Cuellar started out tough by striking out the first five batters he faced.  He kept it going too.  In fact, Miguel pitched a no-hitter for nine innings.  He hadn’t won the game yet though.  Marichal, who leads my replay with 3.4 hits/9 IP, brought that average down even further.  Through nine innings, he allowed one hit. 

marichalAfter nine complete, it was still 0-0 and only Felix Mantilla had managed to hit safely. 

Well, I wasn’t about to bring in a reliever so Cuellar came out for the tenth.  With one out, Willie Mays hit a double for the Giants’ first hit of the day.  Batting fourth was Jim Ray Hart which was a departure from the Giants’ familiar Mays-McCovey-Hart order in the lineup.  Well, Herman Franks must have known what he was doing when he was filling out the lineup card because Hart drilled that ball for a two-run shot. 

imageNot only was that just the second hit of the day, it was the first two runs.  Those two runs would stick as the Astros went 1-2-3 against Marichal in the bottom of the tenth. 

Cuellar would finish with eleven strikeouts and Marichal had nine of his own.  Marichal’s shutout is his third in his last five starts and his sixth overall. He improves to 9-3, third in wins.  With the shutout, his ERA is 1.31, second only Sandy Koufax’ 1.22 mark. 

As if this game didn’t have enough drama, Jim Hart’s homerun ties him for the league lead with teammate Willie Mays with 12. 

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1
June

On the DL

clavicleI’m kinda bummed.  I was really looking forward to this weekend.  The Illowa APBA League is getting together for its annual Spring get-together in the Quad Cities starting tomorrow.  Unfortunately due to an incident resulting in a broken clavicle and a trip to the ER, I’m not going to make it.  And yes, this time it’s my rolling arm. Double whammy! 

I had planned to come a couple days early to play some May series against the Bunch brothers, Marcus and Dan.  In total, I had planned to play 48 games. 

In a way, this weekend was going to be a bit of a homecoming.  I had planned to stay with commish Mike Bunch’s house.  That house hosted my first draft when I first joined the league at age 16.  As a sophomore in high school, I joined the IAL and really didn’t know how leagues worked.  Marcus was just a baby back then and I’m not sure Dan was even born yet.  Now, they are fine gentlemen and formidable APBA managers.  The year was 1982 and my first rookie draft picks were Dave Smith and Tommy Herr.  Not too bad for a first-time manager.

Well it’s 35 years later and I was looking forward to hanging out with the Bunches a little (Mike has a very extensive APBA baseball card collection).  If I’m lucky and I’m feeling better, I’ll try to Skype as many series as I can.  Right now, the wing is feeling pretty sore just from typing this (those of you who have ever broken your collar bone will remember how painful it is).  May need some rehab for dice-rolling. 

Guys, I’ll be missing you this weekend.  Good luck in all your games.

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29
May

Monster Card Monday: RIP Jim Bunning

bunningOn Friday, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning passed away.  Bunning who pitched between the years 1955-1971 primarily for the Tigers and the Phillies, put together a 224-184 record and struck out 2,855 batters (17th all-time).  A durable control pitcher, he was known for pitching a perfect game on Fathers’ Day 1964.  While never leading his league in ERA, Bunning ranked second twice in 1960 and 1967 and landed in the top 10 seven times. 

That control did not extend to hit batsmen, though.  Four times (1964-1967) Bunning led his league in HBP.  Whether those hit by pitches were intentional, I’ll let you decide after reading this from the New York Times:

“Larry Bowa, the Phillies’ longtime shortstop, once recalled a game that Mr. Bunning pitched at Montreal in the early 1970s when “the Expos had Ron Hunt, a guy who loved to get hit.”

“Well, Bunning threw him a sidearm curveball, Hunt never moved, and it hit him,” Bowa told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The ball rolled toward the mound, and Bunning picked it up. He looked right at Hunt and said: ‘Ron, you want to get hit? I’ll hit you next time.’ And next time up, bam. Fastball. Drilled him right in the ribs. And he said to Hunt, ‘O.K., now you can go to first base.’”

Jim Bunning took that gruff no-nonsense attitude and had some measure of success in politics as a representative and later a U.S. Senator for the state of Kentucky. 

Season Totals — Game-Level
Split W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
1966 Totals 19 14 .576 2.41 43 41 16 5 1 314.0 260 91 84 26 55 252
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2017.

384px-Jim_Bunning_as_ballplayerI’ve been seeing a lot of Jim Bunning in APBA lately.  He’s part of my 1966 National League replay.  That’s his card you see above.  He’s graded as an AXZ and a fielding 2 pitcher.  That fielding grade is not a coincidence.  Aside from 1961 when he made six errors, he made only 17 for the other sixteen seasons. 

In real life in 1966, Bunning was fourth in ERA (2.41), sixth in wins with a 19-14 record and second in strikeouts (252).  Considering he was playing in a league with opponents like Koufax, Gibson and Marichal, he held his own.  Bunning did lead the NL in games started (41), shutouts (5), and yes, HBP (19).  Watch out Ron Hunt. 

So far in my replay which is in early June, Bunning has been doing his part for the Phillies.  He is 7-3 with a 2.30 ERA and has struck out 86 in 98 innings.  On May 30th, he pitched a no-hitter in my replay against the hapless Mets. 

Here’s an excellent Jim Bunning bio by Ralph Berger on SABR.org

RIP Senator.

[photo credit]

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28
May

Rod’s Replay Insider: Tracking pitching winning and losing streaks

image

A while back, the Pitching Performance Chart was introduced to illustrate how you can track individual pitching performances over the course of a season replay.

One of the hidden benefits of the Pitching Performance Chart is its ability to showcase winning and losing streaks. One glance at the W-L column and you can see, at a glance, how a pitcher is doing.

I list a win in bold face black and a loss in red, just like an accountant would list credits and debits. It visually paints a picture of an ongoing winning or losing streak and adds considerably to the enjoyment of a replay.

Above is an example from a replay from 1912. It tracks each game-by-game performance for Cleveland Naps lefty Vean Gregg.

You can see, at a glance, that after losing Cleveland’s opener to the White Sox on April 11, Gregg reeled off seven wins in a row, followed by four straight losses.  The chart also documents all the other stats for Gregg, but for purposes of simply identifying a winning or losing streak, this chart visually projects what is going one with the individual pitcher.

Next: The mystery of tracking hitting streaks

Read all of Rod’s Replay Insider articles!

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10
May

1966 NL replay: when should realism trump accuracy?

wagnerMy time is beginning to free up just a little bit so I am picking up where I left off in my 1966 NL replay.  I have gotten through the month of May so June 1 is on the docket. 

The Cubs have a doubleheader with the Phillies on this day and before I even started rolling, it had some oddities.  I use actual rotations and lineups so as I fired up Baseball Reference’s actual box scores of the games, I noticed a strange lineup used by the Cubs. 

For both games, manager Leo Durocher used Ron Santo at shortstop (a position he started at only 8 times in his career).  There goes the Cubs’ defense.  Santo’s 3B-5 will instead be a SS-7.  So who played thirdbase?  It was regular first baseman Ernie Banks who was a 3B-3.  Checking Banks’ career stats, I see he did play third base for 58 games in 1957 so he wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the position.  Add to that that sure-gloved Glenn Beckert took the day off.  Joey Amalfitano spelled Beckert at second base.  The Cubs’ normal Fielding Two defense sunk to Fielding Three.

My theory is that Beckert and shortstop Don Kessinger went on a road trip for the day and the Lip needed to improvise. 

But that isn’t what this is about.  This is about a pitcher named Gary Wagner. 

In 1966, Wagner got a start in Game two for the Phillies.  That’s a big deal because it was his only start of 1966 and one of only four of his career.  To complicate matters, Wagner pitched in five games for six and third innings. 

While I do use actual rotations and lineups, I play loose with relief appearances (though I do try to be realistic).  I assume with every player’s card numbers and grades, everything will work out.  What happened in my replay of Game two of the doubleheader forced me to throw usage accuracy out the window in favor of realism. 

See, Gary Wagner is a grade DRW pitcher.  He really shouldn’t have lasted as long as he did in Game two even against the Cubs’ second string lineup.  As it turned out, Wags pitched a three-hit shutout against the Northsiders.  True to form, he walked five and struck out none. 

It occurred to me to artificially limit his innings since he only pitched 6 1/3 for the year.  He kept getting stronger though, keeping the Cubs hitless from the fifth inning onward.  I’m just not a believer in taking a pitcher out in the middle of a shutout especially in the era of the pitcher like the 60s. 

So Gary Wagner has nine innings (and a sweep-clinching win) to his name in my replay and it’s not going to kill my replay.  The Phillies bullpen needs the rest anyway. 

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6
May

Scott Fennessy: Cubs bats return in victory over cards

360px-Anthony_Rizzo_on_July_16,_2016Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO
May 6, 2015

The Cubs are looking to rebound from last night’s shutdown performance by redbird hurler Nick Martinez. Tonight’s game sees Jon Lester match up against
Michael Wacha, who has struggled pretty badly so far.

Wacha looks like it will be a quick start as he gets the first two hitters quickly but Anthony Rizzo, who is finally beginning to come around after a bit of a slump draws a walk and moved to second on Kris Bryant’s single up the middle. Miguel Montero gets a fastball on the upper half, and while he can’t turn on it this one rattles around in the left field corner for a two run double.

Austin Jackson, who is mired in a big slump hits a floater into right field for a single that scores another run. Chris Coghlan pops up to end the inning, but not until the Cubs are up 3-0 heading into the bottom of the first inning.

Lester, who has been solid all year gets the first three with ease, and nothing has changed as we enter the bottom of the third inning when Brandon Moss hits a single into left to start things off. Wacha lays down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. Jason Heyward, who is hitting more like his 2016 version right now hits a liner into right that scores Moss with no throw for the first run of the evening, but he was erased in a 6-4-3 double play to end the rally with the Cubs leading 3-1 as we are now 1/3rd of the way through this one.

Although both teams had scattered some hits here and there not much happened until the sixth inning when Jackson gets his second hit of the night and moved to second on a double by Coghlan. Addison Russell, who almost has to buy a hit at this point slips one into center field to score two more as the St. Louis bullpen begins to warm up, but he strikes out Lester and retires the side with no further damage, but the Cubs have taken control with a 5-1 lead.

The home team responds in the bottom half however, as Heyward drills a double into center field and trots home one out later on towering homer by Chris Carpenter to left field. Chris Bosio comes out for a quick chat and it appears to work as Lester gets two quick outs and the inning ends with the Cubs on top 5-3.

Kris Bryant gets a belt high fastball with one out and the lead is now 6-3, and while Wacha struggles but still gets out of the inning, but as he is due to bat this inning expect a pinch hitter.

And that wrapped up the game as both bullpens were solid with no runs are allowed and the final score was 6-3 Chicago over St. Louis.

Lester picked up the win and goes to 5-1. Justin Grimm was solid in his one inning and Hector Rondon only allowed one hit, a leadoff double by Jhonny Peralta in the ninth and got a much needed save. His ERA dropped under 8.00 for the first time all year.

Michael Wacha struggles again and is now 2-4 for the year and has a 5.20 ERA. Marcus Hatley tossed 2 strong innings of relief despite being a D.

Around the horn

A.J. Burnett of the Pirates throws a 3 hit gem as the Pirates beat the Reds 7-3.

Khris Davis of the Brewers has been on a monster tear over the last week or so. He has jumped from a .245 average to .336 and now has 9 homers and 22 RBI on the year.

"Instant Offense" Jose Altuve continues to dominate with a .364 batting average, and despite only having 1 homer (he seems to hit the 11-6 instead) has a .922 OPS. Teammate Carlos Correa is equally frightening at .359 with 14 homers and a 1.183 OPS to go with a .806 slugging percentage. They are the best 1-2 combo I have had in as long as I can remember.

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29
April

League Profile: Retro 5Y League

image

Louis Vasquez contacted me about a unique project he his involved in.  It’s a retro league using the years 1948-1952.  The most interesting thing about this deal is that the Retro 5Y League will be using a different tabletop sports game for each year. 

It is Season II now and it is APBA’s turn.  You can find out more about the Retro 5Y League project here.

Some quick facts on the Retro 5Y League:

League Name

Retro 5Y League

Contact Person Louis Vasquez
League Website http://5ybaseball.magix.net/public/
Sport Baseball
# of teams 10
Year of inception 2001
Basic/Master/Computer/ Combination Basic Game
Does your league play… out of the box

 

Louis’ comments:   

“Draft league, five seasons (1948-1952). A different game is used to play each season.

Season II is underway, and will be the only season to use APBA. Two divisions with promotion and relegation at the end of the season. Div 1 has more teams and plays more games (six, 140), while the four teams in Div 2 play out a 102 game season. Originally, the 5Y League covered 1998-2002, and only used NL players.”

 

It is a very interesting concept for a project, Louis.  I would be curious once this is over if you would do a review of all five games you used. 

Thanks for sharing!

If you want to brag about your league, we’re listening!  Tell us all about the league you are in and we’ll post a profile about it.  In the meantime, read about other leagues who have written in.

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28
April

Brian Cavanaugh’s ‘05 Phillies rehash

cavanaughPhillies phanatic Brian Cavanaugh (shown right at 3rd annual Robert Henry Tournament) fills us in on his latest project.  He’s completed a replay of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies.  Here is his wrap-up… -TN

When I first began doing season replays, I figured it would be fun to play with teams that finished in second place and see if I could re-write history. I did that once with the 1986 Rangers and than moved on to the 1964 Phillies. The two replays were vastly different experiences for me. I found that I enjoyed the 1964 Phillies replay a lot more for a few reasons:

1) Growing up in Philadelphia and being a lifelong Phillies fan, there was an attachment there that wasn’t for the Rangers.

2) My father was around 16 years old in 1964 and it was his first taste of a pennant race. This team has always been his favorite Phillies team of all time

I than decided during the ’64 Phillies replay that for the time being I would replay only the Phillies seasons. So far, I’ve completed 1964, 81, 89, 91, 92, 93 (my all-time favorite Phillies team). I also than decided that I would currently focus on what I consider to be the greatest era of Phillies baseball ever, the 2007-2011 run, or as I call it, the “Rollins-Utley and Howard era” starting with the first year they played together 2005. So far, in succession, I have replayed 2005-’07 (with 2008 set to begin any day). Starting with 2005, I will post my results.

2005 Phillies… 92-70, 1st place NL East (2 games ahead of Atlanta Braves, defeated SD in DS 3-1, lost to STL in LCS 4-0)

Leaders

AVG… Kenny Lofton, .318

Runs … Jimmy Rollins, 116

Hits … Jimmy Rollins, 186

HR … Pat Burrell, 34

RBI …Pat Burrell, 95

2BH … Jimmy Rollins, 50

3BH … Jimmy Rollins, 12

BB … Bobby Abreu, 95

SB … Jimmy Rollins, 46

Chase Utley takes over at second base after Placido Polanco (.216, 3-15) was traded to Detroit and hits .309 (136 – 473), 27-84.

Ryan Howard falls short of his NL Rookie of The Year numbers to post .207, 19-70

Bobby Abreu finishes at .247, 18-87

Jimmy Rollins finishes at .275, 10-55

The Phils would wrap up their first playoff birth since 1993 by winning 92 games. A near sweep of the Padres in Divisional Series was followed by a Cardinals sweep in the NLCS.

 

Pitching Leaders

SVs … Billy Wagner, 41

W … Brett Myers, 15

L … Jon Lieber , 12

ERA … Myers, 3.51

Ks … Myers, 188

Brett Myers leads in most categories for starters (W, ERA, KOs, GS). Billy Wagner (7 – 0, 2.42) was lights out in his final season for the Phil’s appearing in 67 games. Ugueth Urbina (3-5, 5.46, 43 games) struggles as the 8th inning reliever following trade with Tigers. Ryan Madson (2.78) and Geoff Geary (2.53) emerge as dependable bullpen arms.

Up Next: Ryan Howard’s record breaking 2006 season ends in heartbreak for the Phils…

Nice recap, Brian!  Congrats on finishing another replay. Good luck with ‘06!

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