April 1, 2006

Catcher Johnny Bench of the Reds clubbed his 299th career home run, and starter Fred Norman earned the win with help from four relievers, as Cincinnati toppled New York 7-4 at Riverfront Stadium. Norman (10-8) allowed two runs on ten hits over six innings, and was assisted by a six-run Reds outburst in the third inning, which was capped by Bench’s 12th HR of the year, a 3-run shot off NY veteran Jerry Koosman, who took the loss and saw his record drop to 5-14. Cesar Geronimo added an insurance home run in the eighth, and the Mets made things interesting by loading the bases with two out in the ninth; Mario Soto then came on to strike out Bobby Valentine to end the threat and the game.  (Game #1167,  7/15/78)

Major League Baseball

Cardinals To Experiment With Infield Shift

With Garry Templeton hitting .330 with 62 STL - Garry Templeton b-w crop darkenstolen bases this season, and my Statis Pro dopplegänger playing above all expectations after just two games, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to consistently and logistically have both shortstops take part in each of the 52 games remaining on the Cardinals SP78 schedule. Templeton is on a pace to collect 200 hits for the second consecutive year, and I don’t want to jeopardize that opportunity, but I’m also having fun seeing myself take part in a major league baseball season. Templeton played all 155 of his games at shortstop in 1978 (which included two pinch-hitting appearances), while my Todd Benefiel player card shows that I played all my games at short except for one, when I was stationed in the outfield. So in the end, the question remains: who gets to play shortstop?

Well, we both do. I’ve decided to have the Cardinals implement an infield shift, not unlike the ‘Williams Shift’ the Cards employed against Red Sox slugger Ted Williams during the 1946 World Series, where shortstop Marty Marion covered the entire left side of the infield, third baseman Whitey Kurowski moved to second, and second baseman Red Schoendienst acted as a rover in the gap between Kurowski and first baseman Stan Musial. The SP78 Cardinals will do just the opposite: Templeton will remain at short, Ken Reitz will stay at third, and Benefiel will fill the space between the two, acting as a second shortstop. Keith Hernandez will remain at first, and cover as much of that territory as possible, while light-hitting second baseman Mike Tyson will be removed from the equation entirely, and be used instead as a pinch-hitter and late-inning defensive substitute.

To make gameplay realistic under the circumstances, I’ll have Fast-Action Card draws of G4 and L4—a groundout and line-out to second—go for base hits, while all singles to left field, off either the batter or pitcher card, will be credited as outs. Batters can still collect singles by hitting to center field or right field, and all G4 and L4 draws with an asterisk will no longer be checked for errors. For teams scheduled to play against the Cardinals, I’ll stock their lineups with more left-handed batters, especially in the 5th to 8th spots in the order, unless a southpaw is starting on the mound for St Louis, in which case I’ll stick with the opponent’s regular lineup.

As strange as it all sounds, I think the trade-off of inserting me into the left side of the infield, and having no second baseman on the right, will benefit the Cardinals in the long run; besides adding a potent bat to the game, my stolen base rating of ‘A’ will only increase the team’s chances of scoring, and hopefully help St Louis finally climb out of the NL East cellar.

The Cardinals will begin using the new double-shortstop alignment during their August 6th game against the Mets at Busch Memorial Stadium, which means the shift will become effective today, April 1st. Which of course is April Fool’s Day.

Rookie Atones for E, Scores Game-Winner in 15th

In just his second game with the St Louis Cardinals, rookie shortstop Todd Benefiel was rudely welcomed to the major leagues by the visiting Mets with his first career out, as well as a caught stealing on his first stolen base attempt, and in the 14th inning, his first career error, a low throw to first that skipped wide of a lunging Keith Hernandez, allowing batter Lenny Randle to take second and eventually score the go-ahead run, putting New York in the driver’s seat with a 7-6 lead and just one half-inning left to play.

One full inning later, the major leagues welcomed the Mets to rookie shortstop Todd Benefiel.

With the score deadlocked at 7-7 in the last of the 15th, after Hernandez had re-tied the game with a solo home run in the last of the 14th, the determined 15-year-old led off the frame by battling pitcher Paul Siebert for a hard-earned walk. On Siebert’s first pitch to follow-up batter Tony Scott, Benefiel took off for second, swiping the bag well ahead of the throw for the first stolen base of his career. Moments later, after advancing to third on a sharp groundout to shortstop Tim Foli, he tagged and scored the game-winning run on Jerry Mumphrey’s shallow fly-out to Joel Youngblood in center, beating the throw to home with a hook slide that evaded catcher John Stearns’ desperate tag, lifting the Cards to a thrilling 8-7 win in front of a fervent crowd at Busch Memorial Stadium late Saturday night.

Cardinals and fans celebrate! Continue reading

Today at the D.O.S.

Today’s calendar of events at the Department of Statistics at Northwestern University in Evanston:

Today at the DOS


SP78 - Ejection-Suspension photo
I just now finished up my two-week project (which took thirteen days longer than I’d expected) of creating pages for ejections and suspensions for the SP78 season, if anyone would like to take a look. Both links can be found in the ‘Statistics’ dropdown list on the main page.

Part of the reason for this prolonged period of stat work were the numerous fixes I had to make to April and May stats, where I had to go back and credit a dozen or so players with pinch-hitting appearances, when batters would get ejected in the middle of an at-bat. This is of course was a stat I failed to recognize during my early, innocent years of Statis Pro, so both scoresheets and blog pages had to be updated and synchronized.

Mostly, though, it was just the sheer number of ejections I had to deal with that turned this into another gargantuan SP78 task. I couldn’t believe how many players had been thrown out of games so far this season, and I think you’ll be surprised by the current count as well. My question is, what’s everybody got to be so angry about, and why is everyone trying to cheat?

And yes, I’m looking at you, Bob Boone and Gene Tenace.