March 29, 2004

Frank White’s two-out infield single scored Al Cowens with the winning run as the Royals nipped the Orioles 4-3 in ten innings, in front of a ‘Fathers-Kids Game’ crowd at Royals Stadium. With one out in the extra frame, Cowens ripped an Earl Stephenson offering into the gap in left-center for a stand-up double; Darrell Porter followed with a groundout to short, moving Cowens to third, and White then sent a slow roller to O’s shortstop Kiko Garcia, whose desperation throw to first was late, allowing Cowens to gallop home. Al Hrabosky (3-0) pitched one inning of perfect relief for KC to earn the win, in a game played at site AZ8 while I listened to a Coyotes hockey game on the radio.  (Game #1135,  7/9/78)

SP78 Records Update – March, 2023

Every now and then – usually after a few SP78 calendar days of games – I’ll update the Records section of this site, adding whatever marks have been tied or broken over the past few dozen games. While working on the latest updates earlier today, I realized that, even though I mention on the site that the section has been updated, it’s almost impossible for fans to notice which records have been updated.

So beginning today, I’ll post that information each time I make such additions to the master list; the entries below are taken from games played between August 27th and August 29th. I’ll also make note of when an actual major league record has been tied or broken.

SP78 Records Tied
Home runs, team, game: 5, Blue Jays (August 27)
Home runs allowed, pitcher, game: 4, Geoff Zahn, Twins (August 27)
Runners caught stealing, catcher, game: 3, Milt May, Tigers (August 28)
Walks, player, game: 4, Pete Rose, Reds (August 29)
Sacrifice flies, team, game: 2, Rangers (August 29)

PB 2-5: Necessary Evil or Death Wish?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the more technical aspects of the Statis Pro Baseball game, every time a batter squares off against a pitcher, a Fast-Action Card (FAC) is drawn to decide who will have the advantage—the batter or the pitcher—when determining the outcome of each at-bat. This determination is made by first checking the PB number on the FAC, then the PB rating on the pitcher card, a number from 5-to-9 which reflects the strengths and skills of that particular pitcher, as formulated using his stats from the actual 1978 season.

If the PB number on the FAC card is within the range of the pitcher PB, the result will originate from his card; if not, the result is checked on the batter card. Most pitchers in my SP78 Replay season have PB ranges of 2-6 and 2-7, with the 2-7’s having a perceptible edge over their 2-6 counterparts. A great pitcher will own a 2-8, while the utterly dominating pitchers—Ron Guidry of the Yankees and Kent Tekulve of the Pirates are two examples—will possess the rare 2-9 rating.

And that brings us to our topic: the dreaded, low-end PB 2-5. To put it bluntly, these pitchers get their asses kicked nearly every time they’re called to the mound, and I’m always afraid to bring them in during critical—and even not-so-critical—situations, for fear that a majority of the drawn PB numbers will be out of their range. This, of course, would give the advantage to the batters, allowing them to rack up the hits and runs before I’m able to replace these stunned hurlers with more capable arms.

Of course, there are the occasional PB 2-5 anomalies, such as Braves starter Mickey Mahler’s impressive 12-strikout, 9-0 blanking of the Cubs in June, or the 16-game winning streak the Mariners somehow pulled off with only 2-5 and 2-6 pitchers on their staff. But most of the time these poor bastards get manhandled, and a glaring example of this took place recently, during a doubleheader match-up between the Brewers and Indians.

In Game 2 of the twinbill, with the score tied 5-5 in the last of the 11th, I had to bring in a new reliever for Milwaukee to open the frame, after their closer had already gone three innings. The logical choice, from a real-life manager’s perspective, was Randy Stein, a recent recall from AAA who had three days of rest, and was also the only pitcher available without resorting to tired relievers from Game 1, or those who’d pitched multiple innings the day before. But he was also a PB 2-5, and after a moment of deliberation, I decided going with Stein made the most sense; after retiring the first batter, he then served up a game-ending home run to weak-hitting Ron Pruitt to give the Tribe the 6-5 win.

I then began to wonder: Am I sending a team to the gallows every time I bring a 2-5 pitcher into a clutch situation…or for that matter, any situation? Or am I just playing the game the way it should be played, and doing what any major league manager would do in a typical game scenario? For me, using a 2-5 pitcher is similar to sending an ‘E’ runner on a steal attempt, or bringing in a pinch-hitter whose batting card allows for nothing but strikeouts: sure, it might be realistic, but what’s the point?

So I spent a few hours compiling the current stats of every PB 2-5 pitcher who’s made an appearance this season, to see what their composite W-L record and ERA would look like, and to either verify or debunk my fears and suspicions. I broke it down into NL and AL results, and included the number of 2-5 pitchers in each league, as well as their save totals. Here are the statistics I came up with:

000LEAGUE000 000PB 2-50I00 00I0W0I00 000L000 000S000 000ERA000
NL 29 62 134 10 5.02
AL 43 93 145 21 5.94
TOTALS 72 155 279 31 5.79

I’ll admit, I expected worse results than this; definitely less wins, and a much higher ERA in the AL, after what I saw while compiling these stats. But it’s also worth noting that there were six PB 2-5 pitchers – three in each league, and all starters – who were responsible for 48 of those 155 total wins.

So what do you think…is my apprehension towards these PB 2-5’s justified? Is it a smart move to use these guys sparingly, saving them for blow-outs or mopping up in the late innings? Or should I ignore the stigma of the 2-5, and use them as I would any other pitcher? Hit the comment button below and let me know how you’d handle it.

Oliver Hits in 21st Straight to Set AL Mark

In what could’ve been his last at-bat of the game, Texas designated hitter Al Oliver – already hitless in three tries – delivered a clean single to left off Toronto reliever Tom Buskey, extending his consecutive hits streak to 21 games and passing Brewers catcher Charlie Moore for the top spot in the American League.

“I was worried there for a minute,” Oliver told Bill Merrill during the WBAP post-game radio show, following the Rangers 6-1 win. “But then I remembered, Charlie and I had a bet going, and that gave me a little boost. Now it looks like he’ll be sending me that case of Old Dutch chips after all.”

Oliver’s hit came after Jays starter Tom Underwood had denied him a hit in his first three trips to the plate: on a ground-out in the first, a walk in the third, and a pop-out to catcher Rick Cerone in the fifth. On June 16th, in their only other meeting this season, Oliver had gone 0-for-4 against Underwood; lifetime, he was 7-for-30, good for a meager .233 average. Today, it appeared Underwood once again had Oliver’s number, and would halt the Ranger slugger’s streak at 20.

But a fading Underwood ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing two hits, a walk, and a run scored, and with two runners on, one out, and Toronto down by just two, Jays manager Roy Hartsfield called for his most rested reliever, the right-handed Buskey. After the next batter was retired, Oliver stepped up against the less-intimidating pitcher and stroked his first offering sharply to left, finally snapping the AL mark and bringing the appreciative Arlington crowd to its feet for a minute-long ovation.

With no games on the Texas schedule until Friday, Oliver will now have two days to think about extending the streak before the Rangers head off on a 10-day road trip, which begins with a weekend series against the Brewers at County Stadium on Friday. Oliver could tie the SP78 record – held by Phillies first baseman Richie Hebner, with 22 – that first night, and providing he plays in both games, could break it the following evening in front of a nationwide C-SPAN ‘Baseball Night’ audience.

Asked whether he’ll be nervous during the games, Oliver said, “No, no pressure…I’m already getting my chips.” He then added, “But if Richie wants to bet me a case of Tastycakes…then I might start getting nervous.”

TWISP Notes #80

December 17, 2022

• Heading into Tuesday’s slate of games, there are five players—who’ve spent time on an SP78 major league roster this season—who have yet to record a hit. That list includes Rudy Law (LA), Chuck Baker and Don Reynolds (SD), Charlie Spikes (DET), and Gary Woods (TOR). For Baker and Woods, who are currently in the minors, they’re chances should improve in September, when the major league rosters expand to 40 players.

• Gaylord Perry of the Padres is 14 strikeouts away from the 3,000th of his career.

• Jays catcher Rick Cerone has been removed from the AL inactive list, and will return to the Toronto roster tomorrow, when the team continues its two-game series against the Rangers at Arlington Stadium. Backup catcher Ernie Whitt, who caught in six games and batted .063 during Cerone’s absence, was returned to the AAA Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.

• The Blue Jays have also called up infielder Garth Iorg from Syracuse, after the team lost second baseman Dave McKay and outfielder Rick Bosetti to injuries in yesterday’s game against the Rangers. McKay will be out at least a week with a bruised thigh, while Bosetti suffered a strained shoulder and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

• Rangers outfielder Al Oliver extended his hitting streak to 20 games on August 28th, tying the SP78 AL record held by Charlie Moore of the Brewers. Oliver’s next game is tomorrow against the Blue Jays, whose starter will be Tom Underwood (8-14, 5.24), who in his only game against Oliver this season held him hitless in four at-bats. Oliver is hitting .333 against the Jays this year, and .367 against the AL in August.

• Willie Randolph of the Yankees was removed from the lineup just before the start of the August 28th game against the Angels after suffering a sudden onset of migraine headaches during pre-game warm-ups. He’s expected to be cleared to play in tomorrow’s contest, the second in a two-game series against California at Yankee Stadium.

• With catcher Gene Tenace mired in a season-long hitting slump, the Padres will shift the veteran backstop into a platoon situation with first baseman Broderick Perkins, with Rick Sweet taking over catching duties for the remainder of August and the bulk of September. With the September 1st roster expansion only a few days away, catcher Dave Roberts will soon report from AAA Hawaii to serve as Sweet’s regular backup.

• Cardinals rookie Todd Benefiel, who was struck in the head by a pitch from Atlanta reliever Dave Campbell on August 26th, and was removed from the following day’s game for precautionary reasons, has been cleared to play by medical specialists in Atlanta, and will fly to Houston in time to join his teammates in their series-opening game at the Astrodome.

• Tony Perez of the Expos has appealed his 1-game suspension after he was found using a doctored bat during the August 28th game against the Dodgers. Perez will continue to play while the appeal is under review.

• Johnny Bench of the Reds caught in his 108th game of the season on August 20th, surpassing his total of 107 games caught during the entirety of the actual 1978 season.

• LA catcher Steve Yeager, who was injured on August 28th when he was struck by a foul tip while catching, and originally was thought to have bruised his right hand, has now been diagnosed with a slight fracture, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Joe Ferguson was recalled from AAA Albuquerque to take his spot on the roster.

Attention SP78 Fans! Get your tickets now for
the August 29th Rangers-Jays game at Arlington Stadium,
and watch Al Oliver attempt to break the SP78 AL hitting streak record!