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. Continue reading
Posted in Inside SP78
Tagged 1978, 1994, board game, Detroit Tigers, Lou Whitaker, Mark Wagner, poll, SP78 Replay, Statis Pro Baseball, Steve Dillard, strike, suspension
Rangers ace Jon Matlack tied Mike Caldwell of the Brewers for the most wins in the major leagues yesterday, cruising to his 18th victory against just three defeats with a dominating 4-0 shutout of the Tigers before a Navy Night crowd at Tiger Stadium. For Matlack, who was traded to the Rangers in December after seven seasons with the Mets, the win was not only the 100th of his major league career, but helped lift Texas to a 4-game lead over second-place Kansas City in the tight AL West pennant race.
“I hit some rough spots last year,” Matlack said, referring to his 7-15 won-lost record with the Mets in 1977, “so it feels good to turn it around and help a team make a run at a division title.”
Help also came last night in the form of slugging left fielder Richie Zisk, another freshman member of the team, who spent last season with the White Sox after seven seasons with the Pirates; his 2-run home run in the first inning off Detroit spot starter Kip Young gave Texas a quick 2-0 lead. It was Zisk’s 19th HR of the year, and the first a slumping Rangers squad had hit since July 30th, when Johnny Grubb connected off Wilbur Wood in the second game of a twinbill against Chicago.
After Young averted further first-inning damage by enticing Grubb to loft an infield fly for the third out, Matlack ran into some trouble of his own to open the home half of the frame, serving up a double to Johnny Wockenfuss and a two-out walk to Jason Thompson. But Matlack settled down and retired Alan Trammell on a fly out to center to end the threat and escape the inning unscathed. From there, the former NL Rookie of the Year was invincible, retiring nine straight Tigers before Rusty Staub singled to lead off the fifth. Continue reading