With Garry Templeton hitting .330 with 62 stolen 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.