THIS DAY IN SP78 HISTORY
August 31, 1996

While housesitting for Steve P at his ESC5 condo while he was away on a trip, I played an SP78 game solo between LA and Montreal at Dodger Stadium, where Rick Rhoden’s six-hitter and a pair of home runs from Triple Crown candidate Reggie Smith spelled doom for the Expos, and a 7-1 win for the Dodgers. Ron Cey and Lee Lacy also homered for LA, and Smith added a double to round out his 3-for-4 night. Montreal scored on a two-out error by first baseman Steve Garvey in the seventh inning, which allowed Tony Perez to trot home from third for his team’s only run.  (Game #841,  6/17/78)

Major League Baseball

‘Joe Walsh Day II’ In Full Swing

The second and final ‘Joe Walsh Day’ event of the SP78 Replay season kicked off with an August 8th match-up between the Pirates and Cubs at Wrigley Field, where the Joe Walsh solo album But Seriously, Folks… was played in its entirety during the late-afternoon game at site AZ15, commemorating the day when the album hit platinum sales in 1978. After the record was listened to during the remaining four National League games scheduled for that date, the celebration moved to the American League, where the Orioles and Blue Jays met this past weekend for the 35th Anniversary Game at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium.

Game #1475The game, won by the Orioles 6-0, featured the title’s LP as its media source; the album remains the most listened-to record ever spun during SP78 play. Earlier this season, on May 31st, the first ‘Joe Walsh Day’ was held throughout the major leagues, on the date in 1978 when the record went gold. The album, which climbed to #8 in the US, featured the single ‘Life’s Been Good’, which peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and remains Walsh’s highest-charting song of his solo career.

The album will continue to be heard during the six remaining games on the AL schedule, and will feature a selection of LP, CD, cassette, and digital files as source material. But if it weren’t for the intervention of SP78 commissioner Todd Benefiel, the record may not have been heard—in any form—at any of the August 8th games. “Apparently, someone made the decision that Andy Gibb’s latest release Shadow Dancing would be honored at all ballparks on the last day of July,” a stern Benefiel told C-SPAN. “I vetoed that plan almost immediately, and suggested that my favorite album of all time, But Seriously, Folks…, deserved another day of recognition.”

Joe Walsh at Fenway Park, 5/31/78As Walsh did during the first of his tribute nights, he’ll make an appearance at one of these games as well, the ‘Baseball Night on C-SPAN’ doubleheader that will pit AL East leader New York against second-place Milwaukee at a sold-out Yankee Stadium, a pairing that will wrap up the August 8th slate. There he’ll sing a medley of songs between games of the twinbill, and will perform 1974’s cut ‘Time Out’ during the seventh-inning stretch of the second game, as he did over twenty years ago at the May 31st contest between the Jays and Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston.

“I think it’s fantastic that Statis Pro Replay has chosen to play my recording during all fourteen games of this Tuesday’s schedule,” Walsh said from his hotel prior to the first game in Chicago. “I had a hell of a lot of fun back in May, and I’m sure this time around will be just as cool.”

For A’s outfielder Joe Wallis, however, a repeat of May 31st is not something he’s looking forward to. “Someone had told me they were having a ‘Joe Wallis Day’ at our home park,” he said. “I should’ve known something was up when I remembered we didn’t have a game scheduled that day…or when I realized that I’d never in my life recorded a best-selling album.”

The next ‘Joe Walsh Day II’ event will take place this weekend, when the Twins meet the Mariners in an AL West showdown at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis.

But Seriously, Folks...

SP78 Celebrates 35/3!

It’s a full day of Statis Pro action and excitement here at AZ15, as my Statis Pro 1978 Replay season celebrates 35 years of play, and my SP78 blog site observes its third year of existence, both having been launched on August 22nd of their respective inaugural years.

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Activities today will feature a ‘Joe Walsh Day II’ match-up between the Orioles and Blue Jays to kick off the AL slate of games for August 8th, continued work on statistics and June scoresheets throughout the day, a satisfying lunch at some local Peoria restaurant, and the following additions, updates, and changes to the SP78 site:

• Slide show boxes for the NL and AL widgets will be placed on the main page, displaying player and game-related photos from the 1978 season. New photos will be added to the mix on a continual basis.

• The actual standings for the 1978 season, located at the bottom of the NL and AL columns, will be updated to August 15th.

• A total of 35 new photos have been created and added to the header image library, for a grand total of 224, and will appear in the main page header later today.

• Though the ‘This Day in SP78 History’ post will continue to appear daily, the option to comment on the post will be discontinued beginning tomorrow. However, fans will still be able to comment on all other posts and pages that appear on the site.

• A consistent weekly schedule of posts—including TWISP Notes every Monday, an SP78 essay or Ask Statistor column on Wednesdays, an SP78 photo with accompanying story every Friday, and a game recap every weekend—was going to be attempted, but I’ve realized that the ‘deadline’ aspect of the idea was beginning to feel daunting, so I’ve decided instead to do my best to post a game recap each weekend and a post of some kind every Wednesday, with brief SP78 updates and game notes posted on random days throughout the month.

• My plan to eliminate outside advertising from the blog, beginning today, has officially been thwarted. For years, blog owners were able to pay WordPress $30 annually to have ads blocked from appearing on their site posts and pages; as of three weeks ago, this option was changed. Now, the ad-blocking feature has been added to a $99 a year package, which includes a host of other options I have absolutely no interest in using. And I’m not convinced I should pay a hundred bucks a year simply to block ads, so I’m sorry to say that we’re now stuck with the stupid things.

And finally, thanks once again to all you fans who’ve supported SP78 for the past thirty-five years, and to those who’ve stopped by my SP78 blog for the past three. You’ve helped make running the site a worthwhile venture, and I hope you continue to find it a fun place to visit throughout the next year. Or ten, or twenty, or however long it takes for me to finish this blasted season!

SP78 35th Anniverary - logo

Aftermath

A quick look at the aftermath of playing nine SP78 games over eight straight days during my late-June trip to New Mexico and New England with my friend Steve P, and three more played during my short jaunt to San Diego to visit my friend Reid at the end of July. As you can see, trying to get caught up on statistics, standings, and blog input for those games has been quite the chore, not to mention a hindrance at mealtime:

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Just thought I’d share with you the proof that, at the apartment headquarters of SP78 here in Peoria, my job as statkeeper is a never-ending, 24-hour-a-day gig. A gig, I might add, that pays me zero salary, yet is the most pleasant and fulfilling job I’ve ever had. Except for, perhaps, that time I spent one summer cleaning the bakery after-hours at the Vons supermarket in Rancho Bernardo.

Kingman: “It Was Just Sitting There”

For slugging Cubs outfielder Dave Kingman, his bloop single to left field to lead off the fourth inning—in the latter half of a twinbill versus the Expos at Wrigley Field on August 6th—was just like any other base hit he’d collected this season. The Expos thought so, too; when Kingman reached first, and the ball was returned to pitcher Rudy May, nobody seemed to pay Kingman any attention, including Cubs first base coach Jack Bloomfield.

CHI-N - Dave Kingman with bat crop“I looked around the infield, and both Dave (second baseman Cash) and Peps (shortstop Pepe Frias) had their backs to me,” Kingman said after Chicago’s 8-4 win in Game 2, which gave the Cubs a split of their doubleheader against division-rival Montreal. “Jack was busy yelling to Manny (Trillo, at the plate), and when I glanced over at the second base bag, it was just sitting there. So, I took off.”

And took off he did, to the delight of the 39,234 Chicago faithful, who watched as the 6′ 6″, 210-pound Kingman broke for second and galloped down the path like a pinstriped ostrich, arriving at the bag standing up as the Expos infielders looked around in bewilderment. It was Sky King’s first stolen base of the season, and his first since he swiped two with the Padres last year, the second of four teams he played for in 1977.

Kingman would eventually score on catcher Larry Cox’s 4th home run of the year, and the two tallies—plus a 5-run Cubs fifth—would help make a winner of Dave Roberts (7-4), who struck out eight over six innings of work. Kingman finished the afternoon with two more singles, boosting his average to a so-so .247, but more importantly, his 28 home runs are second in the NL behind LA’s Reggie Smith, who has 40.

“I may be a ‘D’ runner,” added Kingman, “but even ‘D’ runners have legs.”