Category Archives: SP78 Flashback

Trammell’s Last Hurrah

DET - Alan TrammellI received an e-mail newsletter from the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today, and glancing through it I saw that there was a section spotlighting the fifteen new names on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, a group which included Ken Griffey Jr, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Edmonds…three players on the outer fringe of my baseball-loving past. Further down the page I found a list of the seventeen returning nominees; players who’d remained eligible after receiving at least five percent of votes the previous year. Included on that second list was former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, who’d retired after the 1996 season, and who’s currently playing for Detroit in my SP78 Replay season.

Added to the list of nominees was a short notation, stating that Trammell was appearing on the HOF ballot for the 15th and final time. After double-checking the names of the remaining players on the list, I realized that Trammell was indeed going to be the last player from my SP78 season to ever appear on the ballot. And that to me was a sad thing: I remembered back in 1998, when Dennis Martinez of the Orioles was the last of my ‘real game card’ players to retire, while Mike Morgan—a minor leaguer with the A’s in 1978—was the last of my ‘created card’ players to call it quits, finally, in 2002. And now, I was losing another Statis Pro player, albeit in a different way, but melancholy for me nonetheless.

I may be a bit biased, having stopped following baseball after the 1994 strike, but if I could induct just one player from that list of 32 candidates, it would definitely be Trammell. His career stats aren’t bad at all: 20 seasons as a Tiger, with seven seasons hitting above .300, four AL Gold Gloves, six times an All-Star, and a World Series MVP award in 1984. As for his current SP78 stats, well, those aren’t so hot: a .238 average in 103 games, with 97 hits, 14 doubles, and 38 RBI. With numbers like that, a Rookie of the Year award does not appear to be on his SP78 horizon, but with his solid play at short helping to keep the Tigers in the AL East race, a post-season appearance just might be.

Two days from now, on January 6th, the Class of 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. Of course I’d like to see Trammell make it, but according to all I’ve read, the chances of that happening are slim. And with that, another ‘last hurrah’ will take place, and Trammell will quietly disappear from the ballot, one of the last of a dying breed of SP78 players who still have ties to today’s game.

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To Box or Not To Box

I spent most of this past Sunday working on a boxscore template to use on the SP78 site, taken from a boxscore generator I’d found on-line the day before. The design of the boxscore had a nice look to it, but thankfully it also had HTML code that I could tamper with, which I took full advantage of to create an overall better-looking product. The adjustments I made were minor (center-justifying some words and titles, adding a date and stadium to the linescore, etc), but in the end they helped give the boxscore a more polished, baseball-savvy appearance.

The game I chose was one I’d already typed up a boxscore for years ago, and therefore was easier to plop into the generator: the SP78 All-Star Game, which in hindsight was probably a bad choice, since it was one of the more stat-deficient games I’ve ever played. Click here to see how it looks on a site page.

Right now this is just a test run, and I still have some modifications to experiment with, so don’t look for hundreds—or even a handful—of these babies to suddenly appear on the site (I calculated that if I created one boxscore a day for every game I’ve played so far, I’d be finished in four years). Trust me, this is strictly in the planning stage; I’m also working on my own template, which won’t be as colorful as the generated one but may be more true to a boxscore you’d find in a 1978 issue of The Sporting News. Continue reading

My Card, Sir

On this date in 1992, on my last day of taking a semester-long film course at UCLA, I stopped by the student union and had a few dozen of these business cards printed up at a do-it-yourself vending machine. Someday, I hope, I’ll be able to don my favorite tuxedo and attend the Governors Ball, and while enjoying a glass of Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and a plate of imported Cheez-Its, have the opportunity to say to someone, “My card, sir.”

SP78 - business card crop

Pete’s 3,000th: The Historic Microcassette Call

Back in the summer of 1988, I moved from the apartment I shared with my brother Scott in San Bernardino to the heat-soaked state of Arizona, where I spent two months living with my Mom in Chandler before getting my own place in Tempe. Scott helped me drive the moving van out, and he stayed an additional week so we could hang out and enjoy a few days together before he headed back to his new place in San Diego; during his visit, we saw five movies in five days, played catch and shot baskets at a local park with my friend Brent, and on a sunny Thursday afternoon sat down to play a game of Statis Pro on the living room floor of my Mom’s apartment, a Reds-Phillies match-up that saw Cincinnati third baseman Pete Rose collect his 3,000th career hit.

Throughout the week, Scott and I had been recording on-the-spot monologues, jovial banter, and flat-out nonsense for my friend Steve P, using a microcassette recorder whose completed tape would be sent to Steve as a kind of audio journal of our seven-day Arizona adventure. I recently unearthed a copy of this tape while I was cleaning out a closet in my apartment; below is a transcribed account of our ‘broadcast’ from that SP78 game, spotlighting Rose’s five plate appearances and a few other highlights that were worthy of documentation at the time. I managed the Reds, while Scott—who every now and then offered up his twisted color commentary, adding some spice to the recording—took part in his 25th career SP78 game, and piloted the Phillies. Continue reading

Lenn Sakata: HR King or Longball Pretender?

Years ago, before I saw through Lenn Sakata’s parade of lies, I thought how cool it was that this journeyman second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers had some solid home run punch, and could proudly stand alongside such SP78 sluggers as Reggie Smith, Don Baylor, Willie Stargell, and Rico Carty, and know that his 5′ 9″, 160 lb frame and casual right-handed stance qualified him as a king among kings.

In my Statis Pro 1978 Replay season, he was the last player from the Brewers 25-man roster to make an appearance in a game, but what an entrance he made when he finally saw action, on April 19th, when the Brewers traveled to Fenway Park to battle the Red Sox. Milwaukee manager George Bamberger chose to give regular second baseman Paul Molitor a rest that night, allowing Sakata to vacate his customary spot on the bench and become the number eight hitter in the Brewer lineup. In his first at-bat, he singled off Luis Tiant, but it was his second plate appearance that made players and fans take notice: leading off the sixth, he lifted a towering fly ball off Tiant which easily cleared the 37-foot high Green Monster in left, good for the third round-tripper of his young but suddenly incandescent career.

One game, two at-bats, one home run. At this rate, if he played the remainder of Milwaukee’s regular season games in 1978, he would not only drill another 152 HR’s, he would also shatter a truckload of long-standing baseball records, and no doubt garner several major awards and grace several magazine covers in the process. Lenn Sakata, who in his rookie campaign of 1977 hit a grand total of two home runs in 53 games, and had yet to become a household name, was now a force to be reckoned with.

And that was the question on everyone’s lips the next morning, when news spread throughout the baseball world and, perhaps, the world itself: Who was Lenn Haruki Sakata of Honolulu, Hawaii? And why was everyone saying all these wonderful things about him?

Before the next Brewers game, I took a more in-depth look at his player card and allowed the scope of his HR range to sink in: 24-32, a punishing distance of numbers that rivaled—no, somehow succeeded—the numbers of actual 1978 home run champions Jim Rice (33-41) and Greg Luzinski (24-31), who also possessed the only two cards in my Statis Pro game that carried the the highest ‘power batting’ rating possible, a BD-2. Wow, I thought, did this Sakata guy ever have a banner year in ’78!

Wait…no he didn’t! I followed the actual 1978 season, and Sakata wasn’t anywhere near the league leaders in homers! What bit of deception was going on here? A quick check of my trusty Baseball Encyclopedia revealed the facts: zero home runs hit in 1978. What? None at all? Then where was this fairy-tale range of 24-32 coming from? A second look at his Statis Pro card now told me an entirely different story: a 24-32 home run range and an identical 24-32 strikeout range!

Oh for chrissake! Another freaking typo by the Avalon Hill Game Company! Do you people not employ proofreaders? That HR range should’ve been left blank!

Sadly, with that knowledge now in hand, I returned Paul Molitor to his rightful spot opposite Robin Yount at the keystone corner for that follow-up game; Sakata would not play again until April 28th, when he made a late-inning pinch-hitting appearance against the Royals and, predictably, failed to homer. Eleven games and still no more home runs later, Sakata was shipped to Milwaukee’s minor league team in Spokane, where he remains to this day.

After just one shining moment on the hallowed grounds of baseball greatness, ‘The Kalani Krusher’ was no more.