Just Another Day at the SP78 D.O.S.

If you follow this site, I’m sure you’ve seen comments referencing the SP78 Department of Statistics, located on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. There is actually a Department of Statistics at NU, but any connection to my Statis Pro 1978 Replay season is strictly in the demented minds of my friend Steve P and I; we happened upon the location during our Chicago-Milwaukee baseball trip back in 1993, and immediately converted it into an SP78  information center.

I mention this because, over the past few months, I could’ve used a Department of Statistics of my own, whether they were based out of Northwestern, or North Dakota, or even North Korea; getting caught up on both my at-home statistics and the stats and pages for this blog site has become quite the workload, to say the least. I spend nearly every waking hour dealing with these chores, so you, the Statis Pro 1978 Replay fanatic, won’t jump ship and form an allegiance with that guy running the over-hyped Stratego blog.

Just so everyone is aware of what I’m up against, here are a few of the tasks and projects I’ve been slaving over for what seems like forever. And yes, that’s my purple Northwestern Wildcats cup on the table below, surrounded by notes, player stats, scoresheets, and the dreaded blue Z-play chart:

Work Area at the AZ D.O.S.
May Stats. And Stats. And Stats.

Last year, after having completed the gargantuan task of re-calculating all the game stats from the April scoresheets, which I’d originally kept track of with pencil and paper during the early years of SP78 (and as I discovered, made dozens upon dozens of mistakes), it was now time to jump into the equally gargantuan task of the May scoresheets. I started with Game #277 back in February, and didn’t reach the final sheet, Game #643, until September: seven months to input 366 games. Fortunately, I had a computer at my disposal this time around. Unfortunately, I still have June to deal with.

Wins and Losses and Saves

Needing a system where I could easily check pitcher won-lost numbers and reliever save totals (and keep them consistent), I’ve gone back and added a table to each team’s laptop stat page, for each month, where I can now keep those numbers and totals in-check. The problem being, of course, is that I have to go back and actually re-check them, scoresheet by scoresheet, and type them into the tables. Right now I’m on working on the Dodgers totals for April, my fifth team of 26…with May, June, and July still on the docket.

The Brainiacs at Avalon Hill

Recently, in the midst of all this stat work, I had to check on a situation involving catcher interference; it was then I discovered that a batter involved in interference is not charged an at-bat! There is no mention of this on the Z-play chart, so back I went, tracking down every catcher interference since Opening Day. Thankfully, there weren’t many (just 14 instances), so it didn’t take me long to make the adjustments.

I can’t really blame Avalon Hill for leaving that vague piece of information out, but that doesn’t mean they walk away unscathed. Take a look at this Z-play entry: Batter on two strike pitch swings at obvious wild pitch. Pitcher gets strikeout, but batter is safe at first. Error on pitcher and runners advance one base. Well, guess what I found out 34 years after the fact? According to the MLB rule book, it’s not an error charged to the pitcher, but a wild pitch! The same holds true with another Z, this one involving the catcher: again, not an error, but a passed ball. Eventually I found forty instances, April through July, where I had to change the scoring on a team’s stat page from an E to a WP or PB, as well as on that of the individual scoresheets (and trust me, that one took a lot of actual pencil and eraser work). I also had to go back and fix forty freaking linescores as well. Thanks again, AH!

SP78 Research Sheet fix
This Bat is Corked

It’s right there in the rule book: any player caught with an illegal bat shall be declared out, ejected from the game, and subject to additional penalties…namely, suspensions. Do you think the entry on the Z-play chart mentions anything about ejections? Noooooope. Do you think Avalon Hill cares how much trouble they’ve cause me for not mentioning that on the Z-play chart? Noooooope. I knew about the suspension aspect as far back as 1992, when I penalized O’s infielder Billy Smith three days for his well-documented tainted bat incident, but the ejection part? Not at all. For some players, I’ll be able to retro-eject them, but others will sadly have their indiscretions erased from existence entirely.

Standings

I don’t have daily NL and AL standings archived on the blog site, but I’ve typed them up for personal reference since the season started, and now that I’m finding the occasional mistake with pitcher won-lost numbers, I’m also having to return to the standings and make those adjustments there as well. Plus, I’ve never included pitcher saves in the linescores; now that I do, I have to go back and add that entry to every linescore on every standings page. As of right now, I’m only midway through May.

SB / CS

For years I’ve wanted to keep track of which base stealers (with a steal rating of A, B, C, D, or E) have stolen or were caught stealing at which base; now that I’ve created that table, I have to go back—once again scoresheet by scoresheet—and figure out who stole what, and input those results into every team page, for every month. For those of who might want to check them out, I’ve added these tables to the team stat pages on the blog site.

Cheez-Its in the Outfield

So if you’ve been wondering why I don’t post articles and recaps and TWISP Notes as often as I probably should be, well, there’s your answer…for now, anyway. Someday I’ll get caught up on all of this oppressive stat work, and once I do, I promise I’ll be posting on a more consistent basis, and getting back to playing more games. Because seriously, who wouldn’t want to play more games when there’s a full bowl of Cheez-Its in the outfield?

SP78 Opening Game for August

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14 responses to “Just Another Day at the SP78 D.O.S.

  1. grandrapidsgirl

    Good heavens! Good thing you enjoy all of this! It’s quite a daunting task. Hope you can play games in between all that spade-work. Have fun Todd!

    • Thanks, Julie! I try to get in at least one game per week, though I’d really like to play more, like I used to do years ago. Right now, if I could play just two games a week, I’d be done with the regular season in seven years…maybe by then I’d be caught up with stats! Have a fun time in Petoskey!

  2. Great news. Was beginning to worry … now I’m wondering if I should be feeling guilty about that, considering all the work you’ve been doing to keep we, the fans, happy and satiated.

    While I have your ear, I have a question for you. Just picked up a set of the 1978 cards to replay the A’s season, and I noticed there is no card for Rick Langford. Figuring the set I bought was incomplete, I checked the 1978 Statistical Guide supplied by AH and was shocked to see Langford isn’t even listed among the A’s pitchers, even though he pitched around 175 innings.

    Long story short (too late): Do you have a Langford card? I am going to make my own, but I am just wondering if this was an AH oversight.

    Thanks, and keep on fighting the good fight.

    DBR

    • If I can keep my loyal followers happy, then slaving over a hot table of paper will be worth it! Cool that you picked up the ’78 set…you’ll have to keep me updated on your season if you can.

      When I bought the game in 1979, AH supplied two sheets of card numbers for ‘fringe players’…anyone who played in ’78 but wasn’t printed as part of the regular card set. In a way, it was the minor league system of the game. Rick Langford was one of those players, and yes, in my season he’s now with the parent club, where he’ll stay; at one point I typed up player cards for all these fringe players, so they’d be at my disposal whenever a regular went on the DL or needed to be sent to AAA. For whatever reason, AH made some weird choices when it came to player cards; my biggest pet peeve, which I discovered too late in my season, was that they didn’t use Opening Day rosters. If a player had been traded at any time during the season, more often than not AH put him with his new team…even if he was traded in August! In some cases, they didn’t even complete the trade, so both players ended up on the same team, which really fouled things up.

      So don’t worry, you aren’t missing cards. If it helps, I can comment here with the numbers they supplied for Langford, so you won’t have to spend hours making calculations using their player card formulas. Just let me know. And thanks for the visit…come back any time!

      • If it isn’t too much trouble — clearly you have plenty on your plate — to let me know Langford’s card’s numbers, that would be great. I wasn’t given the fringe players chart, alas.

        Will keep you posted on the A’s replay.

        Keep up the great work, and thanks!

      • No trouble at all…glad to help. But the funny thing is, I went to check those fringe player charts, and Langford wasn’t there, either! There must be some bad blood between Rick and AH! So I must’ve done the same as you, and noticed his absence, and then just created his card using the formula. The only numbers I guessed on were his batting card (I gave him a 10 because he had no hits, but of course he had no AB’s, either), and his PB 2-6 rating was an estimation based on other pitchers of his caliber. I also noticed I’d made slight miscalculations on balks and passed balls, so I adjusted those numbers for your card:

        Throws: Right / Sac: CC / E1 / PB 2-6 / SR: 12 / RR: 6 / 1Bf: 11 / 1B7: 12-14 / 1B8: 15-18 / 1B9: 21-24 / BK: blank / K: 25-36 / W: 37-44 / PB: 45-46 / WP: 47 / Out: 48-88 / Batting Card: 10 / Starts/Relief: 24/13.

        Hope this helps, and remember, if you want to start your season with Opening Day rosters, you’re missing a handful of guys – Gary Thomasson, Bill North, Gary Alexander, and others – because AH placed them on their traded-to teams instead!

      • Wow. Thank you. You are, as the kids say, “the man.” I am forever in your debt.

        And yes, I’ve noticed AH’s peculiar habit regarding carding players who played with more than team. Thanks for the reminder!

      • No problem! I’m always happy to assist fellow Statis Pro fans…especially those who replay that wonderful season of 1978! And I know what I’m about to offer may boost my ‘the man’ status to ‘the MAN’, but I do have some more A’s players on that fringe chart if you’re interested, in case players on your current roster end up with any long-term injuries or suspensions. Again, just ask!

      • I will certainly do that! Although, let’s not kid ourselves — you are already pretty much the MAN. Keep on keepin’ on!

      • I will indeed! Thanks!

  3. I would describe the stat-keeping task as Herculean or Gargantuan, but really, it seems more Ruthian to me. Thanks for taking time out to tell a story about it, especially since I’d assume that many hours are spent at the batting cages and taking infield practice preparing for your on-field debut.

    It’s also cool that, unlike many modern parks, the SP78 field has a large vat of baked cheese crackers in deep right-center and a pretty cool sunset (sunrise?) view in deep center.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Commissioner, we’ll enjoy the content you’ve already posted while you laboriously check and recheck millions of stats. OK, I’m off to check out that cool Stratego blog you mentioned – I didn’t know about that one!

    • This is why it’s taking me so long to get these stats done…spending all these years at Busch Memorial prepping for my debut! And yes, the term ‘Ruthian’ makes more baseball sense, but with ‘gargantuan’ I can make more War of the Gargantuas references.

      And that would be sunset in that photo, where I was just starting the first game of August, and the first game at AZ14. And wouldn’t it be cool to visit a ballpark somewhere, perhaps during our trip next year, and find a Cheez-It stand in the bleacher area?

      And if you visit that Stratego site, you’d better come back! Although I hear he’s behind on his stats, too, so I’m sure I’ll see you again.

  4. … over-hyped Stratego blog. Heh.

    • I’d already made a Candy Land joke on the site, so I decided I’d better come up with a different ’70s board game to use as a rival blog this time around. I thought about going with Stay Alive or King Oil, but figured those references might be a bit too vague for some followers.

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