I know this may be hard to believe, but I’ve made quite a few bonehead moves since I started playing my SP78 season over thirty years ago, and though most have been harmless—having pitchers start two games in a row, or flip-flopping the home and visiting teams—I’ve also committed a handful of gaffes that may be considered….well, idiotic. So please, take a moment and feast your disbelieving eyes on these six moronic maneuvers:
Coach, I’m So Very, Very Tired
Every baseball team has a backup catcher, right? Apparently, no one told the Texas Rangers about this luxury: from their first game of the season ’til mid-May, the Rangers had only one backstop on their roster, and that was a very tired and very fed-up Jim Sundberg. I could place some of the blame on Avalon Hill for not supplying me with the necessary backup player card for the team, but seriously, how could I not clue-in after playing an April 27th doubleheader between the Rangers and Indians, where I started Sundberg in both games, and where common baseball sense would dictate that your backup catcher started one of the two games? It took a knock on the head from a second doubleheader on May 19th for me to come to my senses and call up John Ellis, a catcher from the Rangers minor league affiliate, to finally spell an exhausted Sundberg.
The Games That Never Were
Twice now, I’ve played games that didn’t need to be played, and both instances involved the Oakland A’s: the first took place in 1981, when I played a Mariners-A’s contest twice on April 10th when only one was scheduled, while the second transpired eleven years later, a May 25th game between the A’s and Brewers that wasn’t on the schedule at all! Fortunately for the A’s, the information from both games was erased permanently from the stat books: they lost both meetings, by scores of 6-1 and 4-3. And fortunately for Oakland outfielders Mitchell Page and Joe Wallis, the resulting injuries from their bone-jarring collision in the second phantom game were also negated, as both would’ve spent weeks on the disabled list if the game had counted.
The 1,000th Game…or the 1,005th?
Before I wisened up and began keeping better track of things, and following fail-safe methods of statkeeping (y’know, like paying attention), I had five instances where I used the same game designation number twice, which resulted in an imbalance that affected landmark games: Game #500 was actually my 505th played, #750 was my 755th, and so on. Now, I make sure to not only check my index card checklist of game numbers before playing every game, but I also check the previous scoresheet as well; I haven’t fouled up a designation—that I’m aware of, anyway—since Game #436, way back in 1990.
Hey Tug, That’s Called Cheating!
In the classic 23-inning marathon game between the Phillies and Expos, played by my friend Steve P. and I back in 1987, I had Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw relieve Jim Kaat in the ninth inning with one out; after hitting a batter, he secured a double play groundout to end the frame. In the bottom of the ninth, with the Phils down 5-3, Bake McBride pinch-hit for McGraw; Philadelphia scored two to tie the game, and when the game moved into the tenth, McGraw moved with it, going back out to pitch for two more innings! I didn’t catch this goof ’til years later, and immediately rewrote the record books by having follow-up pitcher Ron Reed assume all of McGraw’s stats beyond the ninth inning.
Thank You, Mr. Scoreboard Operator
How’s this for a prime slice of mindlessness? In a May 7th matchup between the Royals and Brewers, I took the game into extra innings when Milwaukee tied the score 4-4 with a clutch run in the last of the ninth; KC then won it when a Freddie Patek single knocked in Willie Wilson with the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th, leading to a 5-4 Royals win. The only problem was, I’d somehow lost track of a Royals run in the early innings, and they’d actually won the game 5-4 after nine, meaning that clutch Brewers run wasn’t so clutch after all. Luckily, I caught this slip immediately following the last out, and was able to eliminate the surplus four innings without any ill effects to the stats sheet.
Dark Night of the Evil Twins
This one could very well be my biggest blunder, and I’m almost too embarrassed to include it here: believe it or not, there were two Tommy Huttons and two Dan Spillners playing in my season, for four different teams, and it took me just nine years to discover the bogus Hutton, and an additional three to find the extra Spillner! How the hell could this happen, you ask? Trust me, I was baffled, too. Again, I can lay blame on Avalon Hill for pulling this four-card stunt, but since I was aware that Hutton played for both the Blue Jays and Expos during his career, and Spillner had been with the Indians and Padres, it seemed reasonable that I would accept their existence on the team rosters when I would play these games (sometimes several days or weeks apart, remember). Obviously, I couldn’t have all four of these guys running around wreaking havoc on my scorebooks, so I chose to stick with the Blue Jay Hutton and the Padre Spillner, and immediately took their dopplegangers into custody, transferring their stats to other players on their squads. And if you look back at my old TWISP Notes, you’ll find that the evil Spillner did not appreciate at all being taken out of Statis Pro circulation.
Now that I’m paying more attention to my own reference material, and doing statkeeping on my computer instead of with a pencil and eraser, there should be a lot less room for error when it comes to logging and tracking SP78 statistics; hopefully, this dedication to perfection will also reflect on this blog sight as well…