Tag Archives: 1978

TWISP Notes #71

a
TWISP Notes

October 1, 2019

• LA starter Doug Rau was forced to leave the August 19th game against the Mets in the second inning with what Dodgers pitching coach Red Adams called ‘stiffness in his left shoulder’. Rau has been listed as day-to-day, but will likely miss his next start.

• With the Blue Jays extra-inning loss to the Twins on Saturday, which saw them without a left-handed reliever when the Twins sent four left-handed batters to the plate in the extra frame to win it, Toronto manager Roy Hartsfield will be looking to Syracuse for a southpaw to add to his all-righty bullpen. The likely candidate is Mike Willis, who in 17 games with the Jays earlier this season was 0-0 with one save and an unfortunate 7.64 ERA.

• The resurgent Pirates have suddenly found themselves in second place in the NL East, having won 10 of their last 13, which included three wins in a four-game series against the division-leading Phillies. For the moment, however, the Phils can rest easy; the Bucs are still 14½ games back.

• With voting on Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker’s return to major league action stalling at 13 votes (11 for his return, and two for keeping him suspended), the commissioner’s office will now make a decision regarding Whitaker’s status, taking into account the preferences of SP78 voters as well as the input of other AL team administrators. No date has been set for this announcement.

• The first game of the just-completed August 19th slate, a Padres-Expos match-up at Olympic Stadium, was the 100th game to be played at site AZ18 in Peoria, Arizona. The site is the fourth to reach the coveted century mark, and with 112 games now hosted, AZ18 is just 33 games behind ESC7 for third place on the all-time list.

• Dusty Baker of the Dodgers returned from the 15-day disabled list on the 19th; to make room for him on the roster, the club sent outfielder Joe Simpson—who had one hit in two at-bats during his three-week ML stint—to the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League.

• Boston’s Luis Tiant tied an SP78 record for runners picked off in a game by a pitcher when he nailed Oakland’s Miguel Dilone and Mitchell Page on August 19th at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Tiant now shares the record with Geoff Zahn of the Twins and Dave Freisleben of the Indians.

• White Sox second baseman Jorge Orta slugged his first career grand slam on Saturday, in the sixth inning off Tribe starter Mike Paxton, in a 7-3 Sox win at Municipal Stadium. The blast erased a 3-1 Cleveland lead, and was Orta’s only hit of the night after collecting three walks in his other plate appearances.

• My week-long ‘check the SP78 schedule and make sure each team is on track for 162 games played’ project has been completed, and I was surprised to find I’d only made only a handful of errors overall. Twice I’d flat-out failed to schedule games, and three times I wasn’t aware that single games were actually doubleheaders (thanks to the confusing term ‘twilight night’ I’d found on some schedules). I’d also had a postponed game that I didn’t realize was the last meeting of the season between the two teams, and since I want every team to play their full 162 games, I had to wedge that contest in where both teams happened to have an off day. Now, with so many games to add into the August-September schedule, I’m thinking I might have them all played on the October 2nd ‘free day’ between the end of the regular season and the start of the post-season…and maybe even turn October 3rd into a make-up day as well.

• My next project will be scanning the remainder of classic scoresheets from my list and adding them to the site, as well as figuring out how to get them lined up properly into rows of four. I think I’ve found the solution, so we’ll see if it works.

August 21st is McDonald’s Junior Jays Day at Toronto!

 

A Dilemma in Detroit

As many of you know, I stopped following major league baseball in 1994, when the players went on strike mid-season and basically killed my enthusiasm for the sport. Luckily I had my Statis Pro season, video and audio tapes of old games, and the minor league Lake Elsinore Storm to quench my thirst, but I would never again be a fan of baseball—current baseball—after that season.

Of course, someone had to pay the price for this indiscretion, and when I saw a newspaper photo during the strike of Lou Whitaker emerging from a limousine, smartly dressed with several gold chains hanging from his neck as he headed for a players meeting, he became that someone, and I immediately suspended him for the remainder of my SP78 season. Fair or not, he became my scapegoat, and since that day he’s missed 62 games of the Tigers season, and with Detroit in a tightly-contested AL East pennant race, he’ll not only miss the remainder of the regular season, but possibly some post-season games as well.

It’s now been twenty-five years since the players went on strike and—along with the owners—ended the ’94 season; obviously it’s also been that long since Whitaker last played an SP78 game (his final appearance was on June 10, 1978). Until he was suspended, Whitaker was batting .303, with six errors in 48 games played. During his absence, utility infielders Mark Wagner and Steve Dillard have platooned at second, batting a combined .276 with only five errors over 62 games; for the month of August, however, they’re both hitting under .200, and have turned just 33 double plays with shortstop Alan Trammell since June, compared to the 31 that had been turned by Whitaker and Trammell before the suspension, in a fewer number of games.


I’ve been asking myself this question for the past several years now, and figured it was time to ask my legion of SP78 followers as well: what should I do with the conundrum that is Lou Whitaker? Should he finally be returned to Detroit’s active roster, and be allowed to play again after having paid his dues for the past twenty-five years? Or should I honor my commitment and continue punishing him, as well as the Tigers, for what baseball did to me a quarter century ago? Is it fair to Wagner and Dillard to suddenly oust them from their starting roles, after they’d worked so hard to fill the void left by their teammate, and throw Whitaker back into a starting mix? And though it may be too late for him to do so, should I give Whitaker a chance to earn the Rookie of the Year award for the SP78 season that he’d actually won for the American League in 1978?

Click your preference of these possibilities in the polling box below, and help me decide how to handle Sweet Lou’s situation. I can’t say the final results will outright determine his fate, but they will help to steer me in one direction or another. The poll will close in one month, on October 9th; feel free to discuss your decision in the comment area below. And as always, thanks for taking part!

 

SP78 and the Blues

Just a photo of what I was up to recently at a hotel in Grand Rapids on a quiet Sunday evening: working on the SP78 site and watching the Blues take on the Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, with some liquid refreshment in a West Michigan Whitecaps cup in the background.

 

Inside the SP78 Vault: Phillies Tastykake Pin

I acquired this 2¼-inch pin sometime in the 1980s, at one of the many baseball card shows I’d attended in San Diego and LA, and besides programs and pocket schedules, is one of my earliest additions to the SP78 vault. I know very little about the pin itself, except for the obvious: it was a Philadelphia Phillies souvenir, it was sponsored by Tastykake, and it was released during the 1978 season.

I did a quick search on-line before typing this post, and could find no information related to the pin itself: was it sold at stadium gift stands, or maybe given away as a promotion at a game, or was it included in packages of Tastykake products? I couldn’t even find one for sale on eBay, so its current value is unknown; I can tell you that back in the ’80s, I probably wouldn’t have paid more than five bucks for it (however, if it had been a Reds pin, sponsored by Frisch’s Big Boy or Hudepohl Beer, I might’ve allowed myself to spend ten).

And 1978 was indeed ‘the year’ for Philadelphia, at least in the NL East; they won the division with a 90-72 record, besting second-place Pittsburgh by a mere 1½ games, and went into the post-season as favorites over rival LA. But they would go on to lose the best-of-five NLCS to the Dodgers in four, and thus the Phillies’ baked goods totem would proudly be worn no more.