September 25, 1988

In the first game of a Houston-Atlanta twinbill at site AZ3 in Tempe, Arizona, the Astros took a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth, only to see the Braves claw back with four runs, courtesy of a Bob Horner grand slam, and cut the lead to 9-8 with nobody out. However, Ken Forsch came on in relief of starter Mark Lemongello and doused the fire by retiring the next three batters on weak groundouts, ending the game. The win was Lemongello’s first of the season, and he somehow survived eight innings of work despite hitting three batters with pitches, including two in one inning; with apparently no ejection to Lemongello forthcoming, Braves reliever Adrian Devine delivered an HBP of his own in the ninth…and was promptly ejected. The three plunks by Lemongello established an SP78 record.  (Game #343,  5/7/78)

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  1. The Dodgers – Phillies NLCS matchup (that I hope doesn’t happen) admittedly does look intriguing. You claim the Phillies’ pitching staff is best in the league, but the Dodgers’ hurlers aren’t too far behind. I’m still pulling for Gene Richards and Ozzie Smith to steal the West away from LA, but the Big Blue Wrecking Crew does have quite a bit of talent, and it’s impressive that R Smith eclipsed his ’78 season total in early July!

    • In the case of Reggie Smith, what makes his feat even more amazing is that he missed 12 games with an injury in May, which more than likely prevented him from tying or breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 30 HR’s by the end of June (Smith finished with 29). I think an LA-PHA pairing in the NL post-season would make for a great series, but like you, I’d still like to see at least one new team make it who didn’t in ’78. Phillies-Padres or Phillies-Giants…either one would be cool!

  2. Sounds like a full May Day! Was this the most interesting of the six games, or are you saving the others for future TDISH’s? I wonder how many games have been played on the anniversary of the game itself. And if you know, what is the record for most games played on one date (not on the same day)? Perhaps I should hold these questions for the cantankerous Statistor?

    • I would say it was the most exciting of the games I could find on short notice on the morning I wrote the TDISH in question. Looking at all six scoresheets more closely now, there are none that stand out: the Yanks game had a lot of runs scored, the game I’d spotlighted for the previous two TDISH’s was a close 2-1 affair between Baltimore and Boston, and the one I could’ve chosen, a Cards-Giants match-up, featured a two-run HR from Jerry Morales in the fourth to give StL a 2-1 lead, and a two-run HR from Darrell Evans in the seventh to give SF a 3-2 win. But I felt I shouldn’t share that last one, for obvious reasons. So yes, one of the other remaining three games will be featured in next year’s TDISH.

      And Statistor cantankerous? No, he’s just misunderstood. And a bit of a prick.

  3. Hmmm, the answer to my second question is December 31, with 15 games played. Second place is August 22, with 13 games. The 21st of all months is the most popular date, with 66 games played. January is the most popular month, with 137 games.

    • Having recently done some research on game dates, I would’ve correctly guessed that December 31st was the leader in calendar days where games were played. But it’s interesting – and odd – that January is the months leader; I would’ve thought one of the months between April and October would hold that distinction. And here’s one you may not know, but could probably guess the answer to: in what year did I play the most SP78 games? Why of course it’s 1988, a year which included my exile in San Bernardino, when 168 games were played, including the six played on May 1st.

  4. grandrapidsgirl

    Statistor is certainly NOT a prick!

  5. Willoughby’s highest Games Played total was in 1978 – his last year in the majors. He was traded to the Cardinals before ’79, then signed as a free agent with the Cubs in ’79 but never played in a game for either of them. His stats for ’78 look OK – he must’ve had a rough off-season after the ’78 campaign.

    • Or maybe he didn’t like having to change his Sox…though he didn’t have too bad a season with a dismal Chisox team in ’78, where he collected the most saves of his career, 13. I’d forgotten (or hadn’t realized) he retired after the 1978 season; so far in SP78 he’s 2-7 with three saves and an ERA edging close to 5.00. Maybe he just felt that things wouldn’t get any better with the mediocre Cards or Cubs, and enough was enough.

  6. I started wondering about the line drive that Cruz and Walling collided on, since in the SOC, Walling was my Astros’ third baseman. When I did some investigation, Walling’s first major league appearance at 3B was in his ninth season. Doesn’t that seem like a long time in the majors before moving to the hot corner? I can see 1B,LF,RF or DH, but 3B? Seems like a pretty big gamble to me. I say this injury was likely Walling’s fault; as the CF, it’s his responsibility to direct the traffic.

    • I remember another player who went quite a few years before converting to third base. What was his name again? A Cincinnati legend…player-manager…bumped an umpire…head-first something or another…shoot, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Alex Grammas? Wayne Krenchicki? Cathy Conley?

  7. Burroughs was traded by the Rangers to the Braves for 5 players and one quarter of a million dollars in cash in 1976. I know he won an MVP, but it’s Jeff Burroughs – does that seem like a lot? First one to find the Jeff Burroughs bust in Cooperstown wins a prize!

    • Well, if it helps, I can tell you that in SP78, Burroughs is one of the top Braves in almost every offensive category, even though he’s helping lead them to a last-place finish. Do you think that if he knew how well the Rangers were doing in SP78, he’d be wishing he never agreed to that deal? I wonder how much his salary climbed going from Texas to Atlanta; did he see any of that quarter-million?

      The trade might’ve been worth it to the Braves if you look at these two telling facts: in 1977, Burroughs collected 114 RBIs and hit 41 home runs, the latter number surpassed only by Cincinnati Reds outfielder George Foster, who had 52. Also, he was selected an All-Star in 1978 as a member of the Braves, when he entered the All-Star break with a National League leading .324 batting average. So no, maybe it wasn’t a lot to give up after all; if you can find any one of the five guys he was traded for in ANY kind of Hall of Fame, I’ll see to it that you’ll never have to pay for another pack of gum for the rest of your life.

  8. Have you used the HP Mini Laptop as a SP78 Jumbotron? Or is it merely a research tool during games so that you can celebrate events like Robin Yount’s 3100th hit? And how did megastar Jeff Burroughs fare in yet another Braves’ defeat? (Sorry, I’ll turn down the anti-Burroughs venom).

    • The Mini is both a research tool AND a giant exploding scoreboard, minus the exploding part. During a game, what’s usually on-screen is either team’s pitching statistics, but sometimes I’ll have my desktop photo on display, which shows a game in-progress from AZ8. Of course, I’ll listen to music from it, too, so in a way it’s just like a major league scoreboard, braying songs whenever humanly possible.

      And in that Phillies-Braves game, Brian Asselstine started in left field, so Burroughs was used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, batting for Barry Bonnell; he flew out to left for the first out. And just then I’d mistakenly typed ‘elf’ instead of ‘left’, which makes for a rather funny image…except for the fact that Greg Luzinski is no elf.

  9. I was just looking at the library on Google Maps this weekend. One of the archived photos has North by Northwest playing at the Fremont – that would have been cool to see there. I don’t remember where in the library we played. I do remember, however, the “waterslide” video recorded on that trip, and the Pepsi’s at Hudson’s.

    • We played both games on the second floor of the library, in a cubicle, and I do have a photo from one of the games there. Maybe I’ll do an ‘On The Road’ post for SLO some day. And yeah, seeing N by NW at the big Fremont would’ve been great; do you remember the movie we did see that weekend, and where? Why, it was Major League II (or was it Guarding Tess?) at the Bay Theater in Morro Bay!

      I do remember the 20 glasses of Pepsi (or thereabouts) we drank at Hudson’s…good lord, were we ever dying of thirst that day. But what was the waterslide reference…did I mention something about ‘faster than a seal on a waterslide’ at some point? Did we go on a waterslide at Pismo Beach? Is ‘waterslide’ a euphemism for something?

  10. There were about ten takes of “faster than a seal on a waterslide” on the video – the same video where you mention the Chinese restaurant, Mee Heng Low.

    For today’s TDISH, way to go Stormin’ Gorman – four go for extra bases and a 0.625 slugging percentage! Thomas hit .412 off of Wood in his career with 2 big flies!

    • The Brewers regular lineup (and most of their bench, actually) is stocked with great hitters, with Statis Pro cards that reflect some fairly impressive numbers…except for Thomas, whose card kinda pales in comparison. So it was a surprise to see him go ape on White Sox pitching, but then, no surprise to see that his hits were all of the extra-base variety, since his player card only permits singles from 11-12, while allowing doubles and home runs from 13-28. Oh yeah, and strikeouts from 31-57.

      And ‘faster than a seal on a waterslide’: SLO or Racine? Methinks the dreaded Kewpee had something to do with that comment…

  11. I remember the Mike Torrez of the Yankees, beating the Dodgers twice in the World Series, not the Torrez of the Red Sox who gave up the famous dinger to Bucky Dent. I remember knowing that he started with the Cardinals, but I don’t remember the Expos’ years at all, and I feel like I really should. I also didn’t realize he had won ten or more games in a season in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

    • When I think of Torrez, it’s ingrained by now that I remember him with the Bosox, wearing that red cap with the dark blue bill. I do remember him with the Yankees, but not at all with the Cards or Expos. Good lord, Torrez with the Expos? It was my fear when Johnny Bench was still playing, that he’d be traded or would sign as a free agent with another team before he retired. The image I always created in my mind – and it’s a frightening one – was of Bench wearing an Expos uniform. When he retired in ’83, most of me was sad that his career was over, but a small part was grateful that he’d finished when he did, and had remained a Red.

  12. In the real ’78, Toronto won three more games than Seattle, yet the M’s took the head-to-head match up 8 times out of 10. Any idea what the SP78 head-to-head looks like? SP78 Seattle is still out in front of the Jays in the standings, though they both seem like long shots to make the playoffs at this point.

    • Without even checking, I know that Seattle is dominating Toronto in head-to-head match-ups. In fact, I think the M’s held something like a 10-0 edge until I managed the Jays over Brent’s Mariners a few years ago in Prescott Valley. (I just checked…it was actually an 8-0 edge, and it became an 8-2 edge, just like in 1978).

  13. A pretty amazing 178 consecutive games at a residence! We’re going to start our own non-residence streak in a few weeks, unless you want to meet me in Indiana a week from Tuesday – then we could add another state and get the streak started early.

    Has Joe had a chance to avenge his defeat, so that he might also be chronicled in the annals of SP78 managers?

    • Last year, when I had time and money, I could’ve pulled off a stunt like that; now, I’m lucky to make it to New Mexico for three days, much less the Eastern Seaboard for a week and a half. We’ll have to save Indiana for our ‘Great Lakes Circle-Vision 360’ baseball tour of 2027.

      Yes, Joe had an opportunity for some SP78 managerial payback last year, when I’d moved to San Diego for those five months, in a poolside game we’d played at SD7; he lost. But yet, he also won, because playing the game earned him a spot in the ‘Opponent Games’ section of the site.

  14. Kucek had 12 starts in his entire career and he had 3 in SP78 by the end of May. If that’s not a condemnation of Chisox pitching, I don’t know what is! It took 4 seasons for Kucek to be considered having met his rookie requirements and after six seasons, he had pitched 137 innings. Does Kucek’s number 55 get retired on the South Side?

    • If it’s not, it should be…the guy’s a PB 2-7 on the SP78 White Sox, and was their go-to starter after being called up from AAA. But he’s now on the DL, along with another PB 2-7 call-up, Rich Wortham. Whatever dreams the Sox might’ve had of making a respectable run at the AL West flag vanished when those two pitchers went down with injuries.

      On a positive note, the…well, actually no, there is no positive note.

  15. Knapp came to the Angels in the Bobby Bonds / Brian Downing trade at the end of ’77. So naturally, I went to check on how Bonds was doing for the SP78 Chisox, only to remember that in fact the folks at AH traded him to the Rangers before the season started.

    And hopefully Lansford recovers quickly from his unfortunate case of the Halo runs. Those can be painful.

    • Avalon Hill strikes again with their demented way of placing players on teams! Wonder how the ‘on paper’ Chisox would’ve done with Bonds in the mix…too bad we’ll never know. Oh, how I wish I’d known about this at the start, and had put players on their opening day teams. I harp on this a lot, I know, but it bugs me that, in a way, this was my whole reason for replaying this season: to see how teams would’ve done with their opening day squads, and had kept those players all season long, without any trading, selling, or free agencing.

      I used to get the NHL98 runs when I’d play while eating chili, Oreos, and Pepsi Free, but since I’ve never played Halo, not sure what that burning sensation is like. Perhaps if we meet Carney at the HOF this summer, we can ask him.

  16. I haven’t verified, but Boston may be the most under performing SP78 team compared to their ’78 stats. Is it just that you don’t like the Red Sox, so you keep sending the noodle-armed Lee out to take his beating? How does the PawSox pitching look this year? Anyone we can call up? Chuck Rainey seems to be doing OK.

    • I think you may be right: I just checked the real-life August 7, 1978 AL standings, and the Red Sox were in first place in the AL East. Don’t ask ME where they went sour in SP78 play…I’d much rather see them take the flag than the Yankees, so it’s not like I’m tanking when I manage them. Eckersley, their top starter, opened August by going on the 45-day disabled list, and since AAA Pawtucket is basically made up of two guys playing catch (PB 2-5 pitcher Bobby Sprowl and catcher Fred Kendall), there’s not much I can do to improve their pitching, or their squad as a whole. Yes, they are an anomaly…but so were the Yankees in 1978, and look what happened to THEM in September!

      And concerning Mr. Rainey: he may have looked decent for the Pawtucket in ’78, but since he didn’t play with the Red Sox in ’78, he won’t be seeing any action for them in SP78, either. Sorry, Chuck!

  17. Bruhert had just one season in the big leagues and started 22 games. After that, he was traded to the Rangers but never surfaced again. Was the ’78 Mets pitching staff so bad that they overhauled it before the ’79 campaign? It always seems weird to see that a guy is good enough to get 22 starts in one season, but not good enough to appear in one game in any other year. Six years in the minors and burned out in just one big league year.

    • I understand the Mets’ dilemma: I’ve pitched Bruhert in 18 games, and he’s gone a dismal 1-13, with 12 of those 18 games being starts. Why did I continue to play him? Well, he had the fifth-most starts on the team in 1978, and there really isn’t all that much to choose from, pitching-wise, at Tidewater, so I was kinda stuck with him. However, he’s now been banished to AAA, and Kevin Kobel has been added to the current 5-man rotation to replace him. On cardstock, that rotation doesn’t look bad at all: Craig Swan is a PB 2-8, Pat Zachry and Kobel are 2-7’s, and veteran Jerry Koosman is a respectable 2-6. Still, somehow, the Mets are finding ways to lose, and frequently.

  18. From Wikipedia:

    There have been three players in major league history named Aurelio (two of whom played for the Detroit Tigers), and all three were killed in car accidents between the ages of 44 and 53. See also Aurelio López and Aurelio Monteagudo.

    How bizarre is that, and whose job is it to keep track of stats like that? If I ever have a son named Aurelio, he’s going to be encouraged to play soccer, I think.

    • Coincidentally, two of those three Aurelios are playing in my SP78 season: Aurelio R. with the Tigers, and Aurelio L. with the Cardinals. And that statistic was one I’d never heard before, and yes, I wonder who keeps track of stuff like that, and does he have an office at the Hall of Fame?

      “Excuse me, Mr. Pemberton, I was wondering how many players named Jim, who were born in Alabama, have homered in their only World Series plate appearance?” “Why Sylvia, that would be Jim Mason, New York Yankees, 1976 World Series. Wanna go to lunch?”

  19. Perhaps if the Padres are able to take the NL West away from the Dodgers, CA6 can become the host site for one of the NLCS games. Hey, it’s not one of the Seven Wonders, but it’s a pretty cool venue!

    • Not a bad idea! Hopefully the spot where I played those six games would be still available 8-10 years from now…a spacious table overlooking the campus to the west, with a nice view of an evening sunset if the game was played at dusk. And afterwards, dinner at Samson’s in La Jolla Village Square. Oops, I just checked on-line…it’s now called Elijah’s. Okay, maybe Mr. A’s instead. Or George’s at the Cove.

  20. Briles in ’78 was in his last year in the majors. He was actually a pretty effective pitcher who pitched in four World Series’ in six years with STL and PIT. I don’t remember him as an Oriole – the Pirate years were the ones I knew most. He had 72 career hits (2,928 shy of reaching the HOF as a hitter) and 14 went for extra bases, but given the chance to hit in the World Series for the Cardinals, he fanned four times in four trips. He only had four losses in the real 1978, so he should be golden for the rest of your season! Use him often.

    • I too remember Briles as a Buc, especially on Topps cards, And I don’t know about his four losses in 1978, but his four losses in SP78 through June were accompanied by just one win and a mind-numbing 10.46 ERA. After one start in July, a loss on the 9th against the Blue Jays were he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings pitched, he was sent to Rochester of the International League, where his ‘golden arm’ would hopefully do less damage to the O’s. I’ll let Red Wings manager Frank Robinson use him and his PB 2-5 as often as he likes.

  21. Was it decided before the game that pitcher reduction would be used, or was it the result of Reuschel’s three-hit twelve-walk performance that had fans clamoring for a change?

    • No, it was definitely decided before the game. I’d seen the Pitcher Reduction grid on the game board during every SP78 game I’d played up to that point, and decided to finally give it a try, after realizing there was nothing to ‘police’ a pitcher’s effectiveness besides common sense. Trust me, the PR works: if Reuschel had indeed given up three hits and twelve walks, he’d be considered ‘out of gas’, and every FAC draw would go straight to the batter card. And trust me, you don’t want that to happen: I’ve experimented with keeping a pitcher in when his Reduction is at zero, and nine times out of ten, he gets his backside shelled.

  22. In his career, McRae was 4 for 6 with two doubles and a HR off of Marshall. McRae had already gone deep, and Mauch had first and second open, for crying out loud! C’mon, Gene!

    • You’re right, Mauch could’ve IW’d McRae, who’d homered and flown out DEEP to left his last two times up. But Mauch didn’t have the benefit of Baseball Reference or the Internet, so he had to settle for the information he had at hand, which was that game’s scoresheet, some recent issues of The Sporting News, and a battered copy of Catcher with a Glass Arm. The follow-up batter to McRae was Pete LaCock, who’d singled and doubled in his previous two times at-bat. A tough call to make, though with two outs and a two-run lead, maybe Mauch was feeling a little cocky, and instructed Marshall to challenge McRae with nothing but fastballs.

  23. It was Augustine’s bad luck that he faced off against Eckersley, who appears to be the Red Sox ace, while the Brewers top starters Caldwell and Sorensen rested. Add in the “visiting lefty at Fenway” factor and it’s easy to understand why the Bosox’ righties had a big day.

    • Yeah, an Eckersley-Caldwell match-up would’ve been a tad more thrilling I think, but unfortunately it was Augustine’s (and his PB 2-5’s) turn in the rotation. Unfortunately too, Bosox ace Eckersley is out ’til mid-September with an injury, so it looks as if it’ll be Milwaukee and Detroit challenging New York for top spot in the AL East.

  24. I think I’ve posted this before, but Lamp’s Wikipedia page cracks me up. It mentions that he gave up Brock’s 3,000th, Ripken’s first hit and has worked at the seafood counter at Bristol Farms since 2004 and barely mentions him going undefeated (11-0) in 1985. I think he might’ve ticked off his bio writer a bit.

    • The first thing I thought of when I read this was when you and I would watch CNN Sports or ESPN Sportscenter back in the late ’80s, waiting for news on the Cardinals and Reds, and after showing extended highlights of nearly every baseball game played that night, the segment would end with the sportscaster saying, “And the Cardinals topped the Mets.” No respect whatsoever!

      So now, I’ll give Lamp his moment in the sun: he had the longest scoreless streak of innings pitched in the NL during my SP78 season. That is, until Terry Forster came along and broke it.

  25. And possibly (but not probably) the last SP78 game ever played in CA! Unless one of the playoff games is slated for the top of the Hollywood sign, or possibly at Fort Point, or maybe on the face of El Capitan.

    • Not probably…NOT! I’m heading out to San Diego in July to hang with my friend Reid for four days…we’re seeing Rush up at Irvine Meadows. While I’m there, we’ll also be playing a game or two of Statis Pro over the weekend; he hasn’t played a game since 1981, so I’ll be getting a photo of him at the board, then adding his games played stats to the ‘Opponent Games’ section of the site.

      Otherwise, I can see a playoff game or two being hosted by any of those sites you mentioned. Or, maybe somewhere in Rancho Bernardo (at the original site perhaps), or at the UCSD library, or the SP78 museum in Indio, or on the center field grass at Dodger Stadium, or at either Sue, Cathy, or Jane’s house, if any of them happen to still be living in California.

  26. Site MI1 is now a Comfort Inn, and there’s a KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the adjoining lot (the Yum Foods trifecta!). I didn’t realize her hometown was so close to South Bend and Elkhart.

    Nineteen hits and only four runs? Talk about an inefficient offense!

    • I checked the journal I kept for that trip, and though I have no way of knowing whether the YF Trifecta existed at that time, I can tell you that Julie and I chose to keep our dining experiences strictly local and home-grown during our three days in Niles: Pete’s Patio, the Golden Nugget, Lynn’s Ice Cream, chips and Cokes from Peel’s Super, Bill Knapp’s, and the B&L Inn.

      And don’t forget, those 19 Padres hits came over 16 innings, so it’s not like they were loading the bases every other frame or so. Only two innings out of the six that the Padres put more than one runner on base did they not score a run. Now, if they’d connected for 19 hits and scored just four runs in a rain-shortened 5-inning game, then yeah, total inefficiency.

  27. Paul Dade giveth, Paul Dade taketh away, I guess. Described as “light hitting” and he makes an error that gives up a run, I wonder what the Padres saw in him to be willing to part with Mike Hargrove to pick him up. By the end of May, Dade had 2 HR’s in 45 games, pretty much double what his career HR rate would have given him at that point. Maybe he’s an SP78 star just waiting to break out?

    • I guess it’s better that he made the error first and won the game later, instead of hitting an HR early and botching a grounder to cost the Indians the game. But I wouldn’t consider him a breakout star; his ‘B’ steal rating helps Cleveland swipe a few bases, but I would much rather have Rick Manning, Jim Norris, and Bernie Carbo patrolling the outfield than Dade. If any Tribe player is going to be a breakout star, I’d give the nod to Wayne Cage, who batted .366 in 34 games through June.

  28. Evans strikes against his former team! Evans had 100 or more home runs for three different teams in his career. Who is the only other SP78 player who can claim that feat?

    • Darrell Evans! Oh wait, THAT’s the Evans you were talking about. Okay, wait…Dave Kingman? Reggie Jackson? Don Baylor? Jimmy Sexton? Am I warm? I don’t have a warm! Counts as two jokes!

  29. You are correct with Mr. October, Mr. Commissioner . . .

    Frias’ last year in Canada was ’78, traded after the season for a guy named Dave Campbell (who did NOT play for the Padres). Mr. Pepe also looks goofy on just about all of his Topps cards, but his ’74 card makes him look like he’s auditioning for The Sound of Music II: The Hills are Still Alive!

    • Strange…Reggie was with the Orioles for just one season, yet he smashed over a hundred homers. You’d think that total would’ve generated more news back then.

      Anyway…just checked out Pepe’s ’74 card: either a movie musical, or a one-hopper to the schnutz that the photographer caught for prosperity. But I wouldn’t say all of his cards look goofy: he seems quite happy to be alive on his ’76 card, and in ’79 he appears quite…well, content. His ’77 card, however…someone must’ve given him a difficult set of instructions to follow for that one. “Hands on your hips, Pepe…hips! HIPS!”

  30. Who wouldn’t want a holiday twin-bill to last nearly a month? Key for the Expos to hang on for the win and not lose any ground to the Bucs. Winning pitcher gets to launch the post-game pyrotechnics! (Last guy to do those honors was Mordecai Brown).

    • The winning pitcher for the Expos, and the lucky man to light the match, was Hal ‘No Hand’ Dues, with the save going to Bill ‘My Face Is On Fire’ Atkinson.

  31. Before Randle assaulted Frank Lucchesi he had spent his entire major and minor league career with the Senators/Rangers. After the assault? Six teams, two of which he never played an MLB game for. The moral of the story? If you’re going to slug your manager, you’d better save up some boxes, because you’re going to be moving frequently.

    In game #103, did Bob Forsch start for the Cardinals? I ask because this game date (4/16/78) was when he threw his no-hitter in ’78.

    • Another moral: If you’re going to grab an opposing 72-year-old bench coach by the head and fling him to the ground during a playoff series, you’d better prepare your Hall of Fame speech, because you’re going to be inducted into the damn place twelve years later.

      As for Game #103: it wasn’t Forsch who started, it was Silvio Martinez, who took the loss but would go on to throw a 1-hitter at the Pirates on July 6th. In the real-life 1978 season, he threw a 1-hitter at the Pirates on July 8th!

  32. Walling averaged about 2.5 stolen bases per season over his career, yet Sweet’s throw was so errant that Walling not only completed the steal, but took 2 more bases before any of the inept Padres outfield could locate the ball? I know, I know, it happens . . . it just seems a bit far-fetched given these players.

    • The 2.5 SB average for Walling is weird, because the steal rating on his card is a ‘B’, which tells me he stole a lot more bases than that in 1978. And I just checked his real ’78 stats: though he stole the most bases in his career that year, it was still just nine, with two caught stealings. And looking at the totals for teammates Rafael Landestoy (7 SB, ‘B’ rating), Julio Gonzalez (6 SB, ‘C’), and Wilbur Howard (6 SB, ‘C’), I guess maybe 9 is towards the low end of a ‘B’ steal classification scale.

      And what, the ball couldn’t have been thrown into either of the outfield gaps, rolling to the wall, or perhaps ricocheted off the second-base bag and bounded into foul territory? And who’s to say that it didn’t skip into center field, where Jerry Turner had a bead on it and was ready to nail Walling at third, but instead stepped on the ball, went ass over teakettle, and landed flat on his back on the deadly orb, unconscious, while Gene Richards and Dave Winfield desperately tried to roll his inert carcass over while Walling scampered home. Far-fetched, indeed.

  33. Was Cleveland’s save a surprise because it’s his first and only save of the year and he’d been a starter for most of his career, or because it came in a blowout, where a save seemed unlikely? And is Bump Will the son of famed conservative baseball enthusiast George Will?

    • It was because he earned a save in a 16-5 win. He had 54 relief appearances in 1978, and this was his first season after nine that he didn’t have a start; he’s currently the saves leader for the Rangers in SP78, with 12.

      And Bump is the son of Maury Will, who played for the Dodger, Pirate, and Expo between 1959 and 1972, and was the premiere bae-tealer of hi day. And owned an old typewriter whose ‘s’ key tuck.

  34. By the end of May, Roberts seems to be ahead of his team-leading pace of 22 HRs in 1978. Does he have a shot at 30, or has he slowed down since the Mariners’ heydays?

    • He definitely has a shot: through August 5th he’s poked 23 – topping the total he had during the real 1978 season – and with just under two months left to play, and with an average of six taters per month, he appears to be a shoo-in for 30 HRs. And if I remember correctly, he’s one of the top home runs hitters in the AL right now.

  35. Grimsley signed as a free agent, pitched well for the Expos, then by 1980 was traded for Mr. 7-game MLB career Dave Oliver! And what exactly was Grimsley’s offense (contributed offensively)? His grooming habits weren’t top notch, was that the issue? Many people in the ’70s seemed to have similar grooming issues, and many were fashion-challenged as well.

    • I think I know why Grimsley was traded by the Expos: he went from winning 20 games in 1978 to winning just ten in 1979 (with an ERA of 5.35), and in 1980 he went 2-6 with a 6.31 ERA before being traded to the Indians mid-season. That, and his association with a witch, may have done him in.

      Interesting, though, that he won 20 games in ’78, made the All-Star team, and was 7th in Cy Young Award voting that year. In SP78, he’s 7-11 with a 5.04 ERA, was nowhere near an All-Star nod, and will no doubt be about 175th in Cy Young voting once the season ends.

  36. And the Reds lost 2 of the three games that Bench missed, although it’s hard to blame it on that, since they had lost four straight before this win, including both games of a doubleheader the day before. Maybe I’ll manage the Reds to put them on a roll . . . oh, wait – there’s a rule against that!

    • I’ve often thought about that, especially when the Reds would go on a losing skid: could someone else manage them to victory more (and better) than I could? Sadly, it’s a question we’ll never get an answer to, since that rule you mentioned will always be ironclad.

      Lately, however, their fortunes have changed, and they’re slowly working their way up the NL West ladder. Not sure if it’s my new-found managerial skills or the luck of the Fast-Action Cards that are responsible, but either way is fine with me. And as for that doubleheader loss, take a look at a fan’s take on it here.

  37. In ’78 and ’79, Steve looked like an up and Comer. By the time the Yankees signed him in free agency, he was pretty much a down and outer. Did Rose’s return somehow help the Rangers hang on for the win?

    • I don’t know about the Rangers, but Rose’s return to the Reds helped me hang on to my interest in the team after 2½ disappointing seasons. I remember sitting in my grandparents living room in Ohio one night while I was on vacation there, and watching ESPN Sportscenter when they announced that Rose had returned as player-manager. I’d caught the news mid-clip, and since they were using past-tense when describing Rose’s career (“…he played five seasons with the Phillies before playing just a half-year with the Expos…”), I thought he’d passed away. Then I heard “…Rose returns to the Reds…”, and jumped up and shouted with joy, sparking the ire of my sleeping grandfather. Eventually, I became the proud owner of a ‘Pete’s Back’ t-shirt.

  38. Easterly was 0-5 on May 2 and 0-6 by the end of May. I don’t see a Richmond assignment in the transactions log; did he stay on the roster the entire month, riding the proverbial pine? Has he turned it around since? He is, you know, the guy who gave up McCovey’s 500th HR, so you can at least use him when the Braves play the Giants!

    • Yeah, he traveled some dugout lumber that month, but he also had a handful of middle relief and mop-up jobs where he didn’t have a decision, which explains why he only went from 0-5 to 0-6 over the span of a month. And no, he has not turned it around; he is, you know, the guy who took the loss in the 16-7 mauling of the Braves by the Reds, a game which you and I played in San Diego last year. If he’s around long enough, and if I remember, I’ll make sure he’s in the game whenever the Braves and Giants play, and McCovey comes to the plate.

  39. Lansford finished third in the ’78 AL Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to SP78 legend Lou Whitaker, and Carney appears to be having a decent SP78 campaign as well. Is he in the running for SP78 AL ROY?

    • Yes, he’s totally in the running for Al Roy, whoever that is. But seriously…yes, he’s doing very well for the second-division Angels this year, batting .333 with 153 hits, 41 RBI, and 22 stolen bases. I’m sure he won’t have any competition from Lou Whitaker for the award, and with Ron Guidry and Mike Caldwell only eligible for the Cy Young, maybe Lansford will win it by a landslide. But wait, let’s not forget Paul Molitor…or Clint Hurdle, Rick Bosetti, and Bob Molinaro!

  40. Hey! You may not know this, but I was actually at the ’87 All-Star Game. Did you hear any fans yelling at Rickey Henderson while you were listening to that tape? Nice win by the Cards as well, I think they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in SP79!

    • Cool that you were at the game! I was in the bleachers in left field, sitting next to a guy wearing a Cardinals cap who kept wanting to go shopping at Alpha Beta for some reason. And I’d decided a while back that if I was going to play another season of Statis Pro (which I’m not), I’d make it the ’83 season, for many reasons, but mostly because it was Johnny Bench’s last. If you could replay a season, which would it be? 1971? A season where the Cards took the pennant? Or would you just borrow my cards and replay 1978?

  41. I think if I replayed a season it would either be ’71, with perhaps the greatest set of major leaguers in history, or ’85, the year the Cardinals had the best team, in my opinion.

    A week from now I’ll be in Dallas (actually five days) – should I try to visit the site of Arlington Stadium?

    • I’ve been to the site that once was Arlington Stadium…it’s now a large pond. Or at least, it was a large pond back in 1996; today it’s probably a vacant lot. However, The Ballpark at Arlington has a nice stadium tour, if you have the time and the opportunity to go.

      And yeah, I think that ’71 season would be a fun one, but if I had to play another 1970s season, I’d go with 1976, the year of the Big Red Machine and the year I really, really began to follow baseball as a full-on baseball fan.

  42. After a legendary first game like that, what was Steve’s motivation to manage again? Is there a superstitious reason that you avoid playing on June 10? Is it an irrational fear of the suicide squeeze?
    Bruno pitched in 45 NL games in his career and I can’t find one time where he faced Smith, Richards, Winfield or Gamble! That seems pretty odd to me.

    • Maybe Bruno had an irrational fear of facing those four Padres players ever again, and begged out of games played against San Diego for the rest of his career. Did he ever face Chuck Baker again?

      As for June 10th, I have no idea why I’ve never played on that date again…until tonight, that is. And Steve’s motivation? To keep winning, apparently: he would end up going 6-0 in games he managed against me, until I finally pulled out a victory in 2012.

  43. Evans must’ve been the first batter against Goose. During his career, Evans didn’t hit Gossage often (.143 BA), but when he did it was for extra bases three-fourths of the time. Tidrow prefers that you not use the term “departed” to describe him if possible.

    • Well here’s something interesting: your comment made me wonder if I’d goofed the facts of today’s This Day in SP78 History, so I checked the scoresheet and discovered there WAS a goof…but not with the TDISH! In the TDISH, I wrote that Tidrow was saddled with the loss, which was true, but on the scoresheet, I gave the loss to Gossage! And it was obvious to me the moment I saw it that something was wrong: Tidrow gave up four runs, and the fourth was the tie-breaker, leading to a Boston win. So obvious, yet somehow I blew it.

      And I just checked AL standings for June 26th, and I do have Gossage taking the loss. Which means his and Tidrow’s W-L numbers are wrong on all my Yankees stat pages for June, July, and August! So, I guess I have a little work to do fixing this little gaffe, mostly with standings I’ve already typed. I’m working on all June stats as we speak, so I’ll easily correct that scoresheet when I get to it, with no real damage done.

      By the way, pinch-hitter Jack Brohamer was the first batter to face Gossage; Yaz was Tidrow’s last batter, and he advanced to third after a fielder’s choice and an error had loaded the bases, setting the stage for Evans’ bases-clearing two-bagger, with Yaz scoring the go-ahead and eventual winning run. As for Tidrow, ask him if he prefers ‘expired’, ‘non-living’, or ‘skeletal’ over ‘departed’.

  44. The expression “slapping two singles off Leonard” sounds like something that Jackson might’ve been arrested for at a bachelorette party.

    Brett was a league leader in triples three times in the 70’s. Is he among the elite in the category for SP78?

    • My first thought was that Brett was a leader in doubles, so I went to the HP Mini and checked: through June, Brett was indeed the AL leader in two-baggers, with 32, but he was well behind Cleveland’s Buddy Bell in triples, with just four to Bell’s 11.

      And you’re right, perhaps ‘removing a pair of females from Mr Nimoy’s countenance’ would’ve made more sense.

  45. For his career, Unser hit an HR every 60 ABs. By ’78, it was about one every 100 trips. My memory of Unser is his ’71 Topps card, by a long way the most cards of any one Senators’ player I had, although I had some (Senators’ manager) Ted Williams cards, in the days when he was looking like John Wayne might play the Splendid Splinter in The Ted Williams Story

    • I remember that ’71 Topps card of Williams, and I always thought he looked just like my grandfather. So, maybe Mr. Ballgame could’ve played my grandfather in his screen story!

      And I just looked up Unser’s collection of Topps cards, and discovered this little tidbit: in 1979, he hit three consecutive pinch-homers to tie a major league record. Way to go, Del, you pinch-hitting maniac!

  46. Figueroa appears to be the most consistent hurler on the Yankees staff that isn’t named Ron Guidry. With the Yankee bats behind him, the Tigers weren’t much of a matchup. Looking at Detroit’s end of May stats, they’ve got quite a few hitters; the pitching staff doesn’t really scare me, though.

    • Right now, I’d say Figueroa is New York’s most consistent pitcher, even with Guidry on the staff. In July, Guidry went an uncharacteristic 2-2, with a still-commendable 2.67 ERA, while Figueroa was coasting to a 5-0 mark and a 1.25 ERA. And I agree, the Tigers have some pretty decent hitting in place, but their pitching is doing well enough to keep them close in the AL East; calling up Mark Fidrych from AAA has helped, as has adding Kip Young to the starting rotation. I still think Detroit has a good shot at the East title.

  47. Five straight singles with four runs scored – was there a stolen base or error involved, or am I looking at it the wrong way. Did the second single score the first run?

    The game you went to – last time you saw Bench on the field in person in San Diego, or did you go later on that season?

    • Yes a stolen base, no error, and the third single scored the first run. Okay, let’s try this instead: Five straight singles, with the first four of those runners scoring that inning. So Royster singles to lead-off the game, and steals second. Matthews singles, sending Royster to third. Murphy singles, scoring Royster (1). Burroughs then singles, scoring Matthews from second (2). Pocoroba then singles, loading the bases. After Office and Gilbreath pop out to the infield, Rockett connects for a two-out single to score Murphy and Burroughs (3,4). And finally, pitcher Mahler grounds out to end the inning.

      And the Padres game I went to on June 16th was not the last: I saw the Reds play again on August 6th, a doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium, where Bench went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and an error in an 11-4 Reds loss. He didn’t play in Game 2 (which the Reds also lost), and he didn’t play the night before or the day after, either, so I guess I picked the right day to go. And yes, I did get photos that day, of Bench warming up before the game. Of course, I’d see Bench play one more time, at Riverfront Stadium during ‘Johnny Bench Nite’ in September, where he cranked the 389th and last home run he would ever hit…a much better memory than the hitless, twinbill loss!

  48. The awkward retaining wall collision was the first coinage by manager Joe Torre of the expression “Out like Flynn”. I would have thought that most of Kingman’s pop-ups could have been walked down rather than chased, considering they had the hang time of a Ray Guy punt.

    • I think this foul was more a ‘sinking line drive’, which in Kingman’s case would’ve required Flynn to hustle a bit to get to it. And I believe Out Like Flynn is the name of Doug’s autobiography, with a forward by Torre and Al Trautwig.

      And though I appreciate the ’70s reference, don’t ever mention a football player on this site again.

  49. Carlton winning his 10th by the 4th of July made me wonder, are there any teams who have a reasonable shot of having two 20 game winners? Which ones?

    • With Figueroa suddenly tearing it up in the AL (5-0 in July, 15-3 overall) and Guidry at 16 wins, I’d say the Yankees are a lock for accomplishing that. I just checked pitching stats for the Phillies, and both Carlton and Christenson have 13 wins through August 6th, which makes them longshot possibilities; maybe I’ll give them a better shot by switching Philadelphia from a 5-man to a 4-man starting rotation. Baltimore and Texas each have a current 17-game winner on their staff, but only the Rangers have a chance: Matlack with 17 wins, and Jenkins with 14 (and unfortunately, Jenkins just lost a heartbreaker to Cleveland and Rick Waits 2-1). The Padres have nobody right now but Perry, but LA has John and Hooton at 12 wins apiece; again, longshots for 20.

  50. “Rampaging”, “shell-shocked”, “bombing”, “clobbered” . . . someone’s been watching old war movies? When the Twins ruled the West . . . Not so any more, Mr. Carew!

    • Baseball is indeed war, my friend. Baseball is indeed war. And a losing battle it’s been for Rod Carew, who was the reason my friend Brent picked the Twins for his recent managerial stint; he went 0-for-5 in that game, and it seems to me his hit production is diminishing as the season wears on. The Twins still have a shot at an AL West title, but I’m not too sure about Carew’s chances for a batting crown.