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



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. 



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.



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
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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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. 



League Profile: Retro 5Y League


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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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)


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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Monster Card Monday: 1985 Rickey Henderson


Rickey Henderson has been featured twice on Monster Monday, for his 1982 card and his 1990 card.  This 1985 may be one of his best, however.  It certainly is most indicative of his talents.  Not everyone is a Rickey Henderson fan but no one can argue his talent on the ball field.  He currently ranks first among all Major League ballplayers in career runs scored (2.295) and stolen bases (1.406) and comes in second in walks (2,190). 

In 1985, Henderson had just been traded to the Yankees.  The consummate leadoff man, he batted first in the lineup in all but two of his games that year.  He responded by hitting a robust .314 with 80 stolen bases.  This was also the first time in Henderson broke the 20-homer barrier as his cracked 24 dingers for New York.  Rickey almost hit the century mark in walks with 99. 

For his efforts, Henderson came in third in the AL MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger award. 

Season Totals
1985 Totals 143 547 146 172 28 5 24 72 80 99 65 .314 .419 .516
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/24/2017.


Henderson’s 1985 card has it all.  Hitting, power, speed, patience, you name it.  The 22-8 is a little off-putting but is necessary due to his three 11s and one 10 not to mention his five 14s.  My estimate is that this card should hit around .325. 

I haven’t even talked about Rickey’s power.  A 1-5-6 is certainly not Babe Ruth but with everything else considered, it’s all gravy.  The only downside is that you may be batting a hitter with a 5 in the leadoff spot. 

A side note:  the 42-12 on this 1985 card will be aggravating for Rickey fans.  What should be a obvious walk might well be an inning-ending double play.

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Summer 2017 Chicagoland tourney… who’s going?

2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-1975

Don’t worry.  Pops Spatz won’t be bringing Aaron this time

I’m planning on attending the 2017 Summer Chicagoland APBA Baseball tournament on August 5th.

Who’s with me?

Oh wait, there’s a list…

1 Rob Spatz 2016 Toronto Blue Jays
2 Bob "Pops" Spatz 2010 Texas Rangers
3 Gary Lindley 1959 Milwaukee Braves
4 Chet Wazio 1974 Oakland Athletics
5 Todd Daniels 1997 Seattle Mariners
6 Bob Eller 1998 Cleveland Indians
7 Jim Welch 1941 Boston Red Sox
8 John Roels 1929 New York Giants
9 Larry Eichman 1963 San Francisco Giants
10 Ken Schulz 1977 Cincinnati Reds.
11 Kevin Burghardt 1980 Montreal Expos
12 Kurt Bergland 1973 New York Mets
13 Craig Christian 1980 Milwaukee Brewers
14 Ryan Daniels 1923 Cleveland Indians
15 Justin Schubert TBA
16 Maddelyn Vanicelli TBA
17 Curt Bartel 2001 San Francisco Giants
18 Eric Berg 2008 Minnesota Twins
19 Doug Schuyler 1982 Atlanta Braves
20 Clark Eichman 1964 Minnesota Twins
21 Mike Hill 1996 Baltimore Orioles
22 Don Smith TBA
23 Kyle Daniels TBA
24 Thomas Nelshoppen TBA
25 Dave Rueck * TBA

Organizer Rob Spatz says he’s capping the attendance at 36 so sign up now!!  See how fun the last one was!!


2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-1971

Curt Bartel sure is excited about going!

Summer 2017 Chicagoland Tournament Info and Rules

2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-0184

“Oh no, rules…”

Comfort Inn – O Hare 2175 Touhy Ave, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Doors Open at 8:30 AM. Games to start by 9:00 AM, with the Championship slated to be completed by 7 PM.


Basic selection premise: Select any MLB team 1901?2016 that ended the season with a .556 or less record. In a 162 game season, that means any team with 90 wins OR less. The only team excluded due to being a past tournament winner that meets this criteria is the 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers. Multiple Franchises may be selected.



*Your team
*Boards. We will be using the most recent booklet form of board to provide general uniformity. Copies will be available the day of the game.
*Score sheets will be provided but you may bring and use your own!
*Roster sheet with your team. (For rosters with stats,visit www.baseball?reference.com)
* $20 Entry Fee. The fee goes to cover the cost of the room and tournament expenses.


Ø 8:30 AM – Doors Open. Games to be played.
Ø 9:00 AM – Introductions, and National Anthem
Ø 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM. Lunch. Options will be presented before the day of the tournament
Ø 1:30 PM. We will either have a pseudo All-Star game or go back to game play depending on the status of games remaining.
Ø @ 6:00 PM – Championship
Ø 7:00 PM – Optional Post Tournament Dinner at El Meson




Tournament rules

Housekeeping rules
•the basic game will be used. The home team manager decides; pitcher vs. DH and advanced or basic fielding.
• in order to keep a sense of uniformity, the most recent booklet form of boards will be used. If you do not have them, copies will be provided the day of the tournament
• you may bring any mlb team 1901?present that finished the season with a .556 or less record.
• 25 man max roster.
• Please bring a roster sheet with copies to be passed to the opposing manager before each game. Roster sheets should have full name with position and stats for that season only.
• any player rated j-0 thru j-3 may start. Cards without the j rating at the bottom of the card will be limited to pitchers with more than 100 innings and position players with greater than 100 at?bats. Any rostered player may enter starting in the 6th inning. Any position player injury before the 6th inning will allow for any player that fields the injured players position to enter. Any injury for a pitcher is nullified until the 6th inning, with the game results standing.
• any injury is only sustained for that game. The player may return to the lineup for the next game.
• a pitcher must bat in the 8th or 9th spot in the batting order to start a game. A pitcher may pinch hit or pinch run, but may not be used as a dh.
• dice must be rolled on the table or in a box
• re?roll both dice if they go off table or out of box
• there is no limit to the use of a relief pitcher from one game to the next.
• all pitchers will be a straight grade d starting in the 13th inning. (no x, y, z, k, r, or w) their fielding rating will not be altered.
• there are no rainouts. You came to play APBA!!!!!!

Divisional play
• we will cap our capacity to 36 teams. Assuming that we reach capacity, there will be 4 divisions of 9 teams each. Each team in the division will play every team once for a total of 8 games.
• there will be a 4 man pitching rotation, with each starter pitching a total of twice in divisional play.
• a schedule of division play will be provided before the start of the tournament. It will list the home/away matchups and the order for pitching rotations. Games can be played out of order. The schedule only serves as a guide for pitching rotations and home/away.
• each team will have a total of 4 home games and 4 road games in divisional play.
• the top two teams from each division will move onto the playoff rounds.
• tie breakers: head to head, run differential among tied teams, runs scored, coin toss. A playoff game will only be implemented in the event that we have extra time and is approved by the tournament director before play begins.
• one division head will be chosen to assist in keeping track of scores.


• a 4 man rotation will be used. Set your rotation and stay in that order for all divisional play games. Note that the schedule will provide the given matchups. Games can be played out of order, as the schedule is only a guide for play. For instance, your first opponent is the 7th game on the schedule. You will pitch your 3rd starter even if it is your first game played.
• no j?4 starting pitcher may start
• no reliever (denoted only by an asterisk by the pitcher’s grade) may start.
• observe APBA pitching improvements and decreases. With the following exception – all runs credited will be earned or unearned.
• starters must pitch at least 5 innings unless affected by grade reduction.
• relief pitchers with *asterisk are limited to two innings or 6 total outs.
• pitchers with straight grades or split grades are limited to 3 innings or 9 total outs when used in relief.
• any relief pitcher is advanced one letter grade, but not beyond grade a, for only the first batter they face in the middle of any inning if he throws from the opposite side of the plate..
• pitching rotations stays set until the championship game.
• in the championship game, any pitcher rated as a starter may start. A relief pitcher may not start.
• your starting pitcher cannot exceed 9 innings unless they are pitching a no-hitter. Beyond the 9th inning, they must be removed if they give up a hit at the end of that inning.


• total team fielding will be used.
• no player can start the game at a position for which he is not graded.
• a player can not be used at any time in a position for which he is not graded, if another player is available to enter the game and could be placed in the lineup in way that would result in no one being used at a non?graded position. Please
do not try to bend the rules or find loopholes. Let’s all just have fun!
• any player who does not have a fielding rating for a position will be considered the lowest fielding rating if placed into the game.
• the manager must declare deep or in with a runner on third base. If not declared, the infield will be considered deep.


• a manager must declare whether or not a runner is holding/playing it safe. If they are holding/playing it safe, they would only advance as far as the batter. Example, with a runner on first base and the batter doubles, the runner would
only advance two bases and go to third and not score despite the board result. All board steal results or thrown out trying to steal results are negated if the manager was holding/playing it safe with the runner.
• no limit to sacrifice attempts.
• no limit to hit n run attempts.

Playoffs? Playoffs!

• there will be a total of 8 playoff teams. There are two leagues – left side and right wide (names to be determined later) with each side having two divisions. The top two teams from each division will advance. The first round will see the second place team from division 2 at the first place for division 1, second place from division 1 at first place division 2, second place from division 3 at first place division 4, and second place division 4 at first place division3. Pitching rotation is considered refreshed so any starter can start. Your starter for the league championship in the next game will be resting and unable to relieve, however your number three and four starters may relieve. Best record followed by playoff run differential will determine home field for the league championship and game one of the World Series. League championship will see your second starter start that game. Rotation resets for the championship, which will be a best of three affair with home field alternating between games. Your fourth starter may relieve.


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