Saturday, July 14, 2018

1991 update: Aug. 5, 1991

Finally, I have gotten around to doing an update for the 1991 APBA baseball replay I'm doing. This is the slowest seasonal replay I've ever done. Usually, I can knock out a full season in about 18 months (or less if it's a pre-1969 divisional season). But I am soon to reach three years on this project. I began rolling the 1991 season on Aug. 16, 2015. I've picked up the pace of games a bit lately, but I still have a ways go to.

It's not because the season is boring. Instead, I've gotten a life. I've written about how life changes during a replay. We elect new presidents, some get new jobs, move away, buy new cars, have health issues, whatever. A lot has happened in my world just after I rolled the first at bat for this 1991 season. A week later, I headed for northern Illinois and those who've read this blog in the past know that story. Now, I'm a domesticated guy, going to the store with my sweetie to buy lotions and to look at bedspreads and towels and all. I could probably roll a complete game in the amount of time we stand at the fingernail polish section of Wal-Mart.

But, I still find a way to fit in a few games and still enjoy this season. And, like all other replays I've done, I'm finding personalities of teams are shining through.

First, the standings through Aug. 5, 1991

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East Division W   L   GB

Toronto       68    35     --
Milwaukee  56   49   11.5
Boston         55   50   12.5
Detroit         51    54   16.5
New York     44   58    21
Baltimore     41   63    26
Cleveland     32    72    35

West Division   W   L   GB
Minnesota        65    42    -
Seattle               62    44   2.5
California         56    49     8
Chicago             55    49    8.5
Kansas City      54     50   9.5
Texas                 47     55   15.5
Oakland            47     60    18

NATIONAL LEAGUE
East Division      W    L     GB
Pittsburgh           68    35     -
St. Louis              62    42   6.5
New York            56    48   12.5
Philadelphia       43     61   25.5
Chicago               41      63   27.5
Montreal             33      71   35.5

West Division    W    L    GB
Atlanta                 71     32      -
Cincinnati           60     43    11
Los Angeles         56    48    15.5
San Diego            53     52     21
San Francisco     42     62   30.5
Houston               38    66    33.5

And the leaders, so far:
American League
Home Runs: 40, Canseco, Oak; 34, Buhner, Sea; 30, Thomas, Chi
Wins: 17-1, Erickson, Minn; 16-7, Tapani, Minn; 15-7, Clemens, Bos
Saves: 20, Reardon, Bos; 19, Harvey, Cal; 19, Montgomery, KC
National League
Home Runs: 29, Mitchell, SF; 28, Dawson, Chi; 25, Strawberry, NY
Wins: 22-0, Glavine, Atl; 19-2, Leibrandt, Atl; 15-6, Tewskbury, StL
Saves: 24, Dibble, Cin; 22, Howell, LA; 18, Belinda, Pit

Two things stand out immediately. Check out Atlanta's pitching. Glavine and Leibrandt are a combined 41-2 for the Braves! It's hard to not run away with the division with that kind of record on the mound. The Braves have gone 12-3 in their last 15 games. Cincinnati won seven of its last eight games, but 11 games back in early August is a large hurdle to overcome. The only other interesting things about playing National League West teams is if Mitchell will get hot and start hammering home runs again like he did early on in the season and if Fred McGriff will pick it up for the Padres.

Pittsburgh looks like a lock to take the East as well. Montreal continues to be dismal, despite having some good players. They can hit and run, but, oh that pitching. There has been some hope for the Expos as of late. They've gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, better than that 3 for 10 stuff earlier in the season. I cannot understand the Mets this season. The team is overachieving, winning a lot of games in come-from-behind fashion. But, just when I think they may make a run, they fall apart. For instance, they've won one of their last seven games. Before that, they embarked on an eight-game winning streak. Pittsburgh has gone 7-3 in the Pirates' last 10 games, compared to St. Louis' 5-5 mark. The two teams still have eight games against each other and the late season could become interesting if the Pirates falter and St. Louis can put together a good streak.

Cleveland now has the distinction of being the worst team in the league, surpassing Montreal for futility. The Indians helped their downfall by winning only three of their last 20 games and are on a seven-game losing skid. Meanwhile, Milwaukee has gone 10-3. Detroit, which seemed to present a decent challenge in the East at the beginning of the season - fueled by Mickey Tettleton's bat - has won only two of its last 12 games. Boston has won two of its last 10, giving Toronto, basically, the free pass to the divison crown.

Minnesota and Seattle continue to play close. Just as the Twins began taking off and Seattle began slipping, the Twinks went 6-4 while the Mariners took eight of 10. The two teams will play each other six more times. It may be the best pennant race of the season.

So, I play on to see what happens. Will Canseco hit 61 or more home runs? He was hot for a while and then just stopped. Then, he hit one in early August, prompting speculation that he'd be back on track. He then struck out three times in that game. But, he hit two more on Aug. 4 against the Twins, bringing his tally to 40.

Will Glavine lose? Can he go 30-0? Will Montreal find a way not to lose 100 games? Will Ron Dibble save 50 games for the Reds?

A lot of questions still remain in this season and I'll begin getting answers as the season progresses - as long as I can stay out of the fingernail polish aisle for a while.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Write Thing To Do

When I first entered the Arkansas school system I learned how impacting the written word was, and although it involved disciplinary action and the shame of my parents, it was an empowering moment.

Now, 44 years later and a career of writing, I think back on that time and where all this may have begun.

We had just moved from northern Minnesota to Arkansas in April 1974 and in a momentary lapse of reasoning, my parents decided to enroll me in the nearby rural school for the final six weeks of eighth grade. That way, they said, I could make friends early on and be prepared for the full school year the following fall. I tried to tell them that I would have to go through it all again in September, the 'new kid no one wants to deal with' routine.

I couldn't understand the Southern dialect and I am sure they had trouble with my clipped, Minnesotan, ya betcha. I was pretty much shunned as a nerd, a classification I held onto for most of my high schooling there. But, they could understand the written word and I found some success early on. My English teacher, a Southern belle of her own, would read my writing assignments to the class, saying they were good examples; my words sounded odd in her twang, but at least I was getting some validation.

So, I wrote more. And this is where I got into trouble. I was still somewhat miffed at having to have moved from Minnesota down to this rural, Ma and Pa Kettle country and I vented in writing.

I wrote a satirical travel brochure for the high school. "Come hitch your horse up to the post and come on in," I penned. I mentioned something about the Southern IQ being lower than a snake's belly and how there was no electricity in the school buildings and the only facilities were outhouses. I probably noted how everyone seemed related to everyone and how the graduating class of 33 (36 if you counted the babies the classroom mammas-to-be were totin' around) would hold its ceremony in a barn. Stuff like that.

A student read it and laughed and passed it on to someone else. Somehow, it ended up in the English teacher's hands. She didn't read it out loud. Apparently she didn't think it was an example of decent writing. Instead, she took it to the principal's office.

The principal then called my parents and we had a conference. "It's just a joke," I tried to reason. He didn't see the humor in it and planned to suspend me. My parents pled, saying if I missed any school, there'd be a chance I'd not be able to progress to the next grade due to my move from Minnesota so late in the school year. He rescinded, thinking an extra year of me would not fare well for him. Instead, they placed me on some type of probation.

"You won't be writing anything like that here again," he admonished.

The punishment was understood, but I also gained an insight into the impact of writing. I had caused an emotion, albeit not the greatest one for a nerdy, shy kid to endure. But, still, it was a learning experience and isn't that was school is all about?

A year later, I was still writing. While playing keep-away with some kid's hat, I accidentally knocked over a concrete statue in the middle of a schoolyard fountain. An angel atop the thing teetered and then fell, splitting in pieces; its wings clipped, its halo missing. I would have snuck away, but the fact that about 200 other kids spent the lunch break in the yard and saw me be stupid with Cupid, I couldn't. Instead, I fessed up to the same principal who scolded me earlier. I'm sure after dealing with me again, he checked to see that his Rolaids supply was replenished.

I was ordered to clean up the mess and later I wrote a story about it all. I wrote it like a police report, complete with the dry police officers' verbiage and made up accounts from Witness 1 and Witness 2. I gave it to a friend who, unbeknownst to me, gave it to the school newspaper advisor who, unbeknownst to me, published it in the paper. Later, again unbeknownst to me, she entered it in an Arkansas high school newspaper contest. I won third place in the state in feature writing.

Two extracurricular writings at the school, two reactions. The die was set. I was going to write.

I followed that path into journalism and for 36 years now, I've made a living (somewhat) by writing what others do and tell me.

Journalism is not as fun as the real writing all writers want to do. There's little choice in what we write at papers. Yesterday, for example, I wrote a feature obituary on the former owner of the newspaper where I now work, a piece on the state department of education's decision to no longer mandate journalism be a required elective in high schools, a follow up on a Hepatitis A investigation at a local restaurant and a feature on two people wanting to create a museum to honor the area's musical heritage. Interesting, but not very creative.

That's why I like writing on this blog for the past several years. There's always something to delve into when playing the APBA games. Stats, certain players, memories created by the game. And, I know that when I write here, I won't be up for any suspensions

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Oh, Say, Canseco

There are times during APBA baseball season replays when some players far exceed their actual statistical performance, clubbing more home runs, having a far better batting average, winning more games on the mound then their real-life counterparts.

And there are times when they don't produce as well as expected and for whatever reason have stats lower in the game than they did in real life.

When I replayed the 1998 season, that steroid-laced slugfest between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, both performed even above their actual tallies. McGwire ended up with some inane tally of 76 or so (I'm not at home to check my past season stats). Even San Diego Padres outfielder Greg Vaughn outdid his real self in that replay, hitting more than the 50 he did in the actual season.

But when I rolled 1957, I anticipated a lot more from Mickey Mantle. He was coming off his Triple Crown season of 1956 and I expected his APBA card to reflect that. The cards, for those of you uninitiated in APBA games, are created based upon player's real hitting and fielding tendencies. A home run slugger in the real game will have a card that should produce a lot of home runs in the replay game. Inversely, a player with a ton of strikeouts, like, for instance, Rob Deer in the 1991 season, will have several "13s" on his card, the corresponding number to a whiff.

Then, there are also the times when APBA players perform outstandingly for part of a season and then "cool off" during another part. Think Reggie Jackson and that 1969 season of his. By July 31, 1969, he had 40 home runs in the real game and was on pace to beat Roger Maris' season record of 61 homers. But then his bat shut down. He only hit seven more home runs during the year.

That's happening with Jose Canseco in my 1991 replay currently underway. By May 31, 1991, in the replay, Canseco had 16 home runs. In June, he hit 15 more and at the All-Star break, he sat with 32 home runs. There was a time when I knew he'd hit a home run whenever I rolled the dice. A toss of "66," the universal home run result, would seem to show up constantly. Or, if someone was on base, Canseco's result would be a '5,' meaning a roundtripper in that situation.

But then his bat went quiet and now, as I reach July 31, 1991, Canseco has 35 home runs for the season. After hitting a home run on July 1, he didn't put one in the stands until July 15 - a two-week stretch with naught a clout. He's also batted .223 for the month of July. Before the All-Star break, and I've not tallied the stats and am only guessing based on observation, Canseco hit over .300.

All that to say, this is what drives this APBA game in our lives from childhood through adulthood. Most of us began playing the game at an early age, thrilled just to be holding the cards and feeling some slight, personal connection with our childhood heroes. It stuck with us, though, as we left that age of innocence and evolved into more adult skepticism, wariness and cynicism. That thrill is still manifested in the cards. We may be old and void of much of the youthful hope, but the cards still offer a spark of that.

If the cards played out exactly as the ballplayers did in real life, really, what would be the point of playing the game? There's always that outlier, that oddity of some player that stands out. Sure, the game is based on math and many players' replay stats will be similar to their actual seasonal numbers, but there's so much more. There's Canseco in a slump, Mantle not playing up to expectations, substitutes doing extraordinary things (for a while, it seemed whenever I put in Dave Bergman at first for the 1991 Detroit Tigers to give Cecil Fielder a rest, he'd go 3 for 5 with a home and double) and others excelling far beyond their statistical realms.

There's more than two months remaining in my 1991 replay. Will Canseco get hot again? Is Maris' 61 home runs still the record for the season (pre-2001 Barry Bonds)? Will some other player suddenly stand out for the rest of the season? It's why we keep rolling the games.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cards and dice vs. computers

A few years ago, I stumbled across an APBA message board that contained one of the more interesting debates about the game I have ever read. The site, Dephi Forums, contains hundreds of discussions about the games APBA makes, the cards issued, the anticipation surround the release of new seasons and sports talk in general. It also contains recaps of replays the various gamers do and includes box scores, write ups and standings. It's a fantastic site for all things APBA.

But I also saw one thread that may have begun one of the greatest debates of all time, even surpassing the Chicken-Egg, Blue Dress/Gold Dress and Less Filling, More Taste conundrums we've wrestled with.

One gamer wrote that he plays the ABPA game on his computer. He said he set up the parameters for replaying a season, choosing the coaches and schedule and then, setting the thing in play as he was leaving his home. He said he returned the following day and saw the results.

And I, a dice and cards guy since Day 1 in 1977, thought, "what's the point in that?" He had the season completed in his absence. The statistics were all compiled for him and the final standings presented in neat form.

But where was the fun in that? I know there are computer players who enjoy the game and probably most of them don't leave the game Instead, they participate (as best as one can on a computer) and watch the season replay unfold.

Those who know me are aware I am a complete computer idiot. I've tried to keep player and team statistics several times by computer. Each time, though, my computer crashes and I fail to back up the stats. The last time, I had my 1991 replay updated on my work computer when I got laid off the job. Seems like each time I try to compile stats, technology bites me in the butt.

I've also played an APBA version of the basketball game some 30 years ago. It featured 20 great teams of the past. The player could set up the lineups and watch the games unfold. It was okay, but I felt so detached from the game, from the rolling and from watching each play ensue, that I soon quit and returned to the sluggish dice and cards game of APBA's roundball back then.

I've been playing the baseball game for nearly 20 years now. I was a late bloomer, getting into this game first with the football and basketball and later the hockey game. I'd never, ever consider playing the baseball game with a computer.

There's something about holding each player's card in hand while rolling the dice. Doing it that way puts you into the game and gives you some control of the outcome.

I'm reminded once of being at a casino in some small Mississippi town. Several people were working the slot machines in one row, repetitively pushing a button to set the things in motion. I noticed the slack-jawed look on each. The motions were mindless, almost factory-line in their choreographing. It took nothing other than pushing a button when the noise stopped each time. A trained chicken could have pecked the button with more enthusiasm. The gamblers showed little emotion and they weren't really part of it. They were on the outside, looking in, so to speak.

Obviously, I'm not comparing computer players to mindless drones (or chickens, either). And, again those who know me realize, with my extreme ignorance of all things computing, me talking about that is like Forrest Gump talking about the intricacies of NASA's space program.

But even though it takes forever, I'm sticking with cards and dice, rolling seasons game by game. I began the 1991 season in August 2015. It will soon be three years since I rolled that first game of the replay and I'm only about 65 percent done. I could have fed the information into the computer, left for a weekend and had the entire season done with stats finished, winners declared and a sense of accomplishment fulfilled.

Instead, I'll chug along at my turtle-like pace and enjoy each game, savoring the season as it develops and noticing all the nuances of the teams and players as they slowly make their way through the replay.

And maybe, just maybe, since I am a techno idiot, if I can find my old slide rule, I can start doing those stats again.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sleeve Memories

Maybe as you get older, small things remind you more of the past and a time when life was easier and more subdued. Little events, glimpses of moments, suddenly bring back memories.

It happened the other night when I was rolling an APBA game, of all things. And this may be just some random occurance that hit me at a time when nostalgia has lately been featured heavily in my brain's playlist. It's definitely not a big event and I feel sort of silly even sharing it. Regardless, it made an impression and it brought back a flood of memories of playing this game at an earlier age.

Because Arkansas has unpredictable weather, I didn't really know what to expect the temperature to be when Holly and I prepared for our nightly dog walk the other day. Lately, the climate has varied. One day, it's 65 degrees, as it should be in the southern climes of the U.S. this time of year. Then, it rains and gets cold and the temperature drops to 40 degrees at night. We even had a dusting of snow a few weekends ago which is not ordinary for this area.

I grew up in northern Minnesota and I understand the concept of cold weather - in places it's supposed to be cold. However, down here, you get lazy with the temperatures and don't expect it to be chilly in April.

So, I threw on my Bemidji State University hoodie, a large green hooded sweatshirt bearing the logo of the university where my father taught years ago. Holly got it for me for Christmas a couple of years ago and I've worn it a lot since. It's warm, but not too warm. It's got the hood in case the wind comes a-blowin' and it's got the long sleeves that can either be pushed up or rolled down depending upon the night air chill. It's big, though, even on me and the long sleeves tend to get floppy.

After we walked the dog in the neighborhood, I decided to roll a couple of games in the 1991 replay I'm still doing. I rolled up my sleeves, sat at the APBA game desk in what we call the "baseball room" because I've got all my baseball books, cards, collections and APBA stuff in it, and began rolling the dice.

As is to happen with large, droopy sleeves, they slid down my arms and this is where the memory took over.

When I was a kid in Minnesota, and for a time in Arkansas when my family moved here, I would wear long-sleeved flannel pajamas and a bathrobe. I'd play my sports games late into the night when my parents were asleep (although the clacking of the dice in those old, plastic yellow shakers would often wake my father), and, because it was so late in the evening, I'd be decked out in the pajamas.

The thick, flannel sleeves would invariably get in the way of the dice tosses and I'd constantly roll them up. Back then, I played the APBA basketball and football games, which require a lot of dice rolling. I did the "quick" version of the NBA game, where you'd roll four or five times to finish out a single play. The sleeves became a burden and I'd try to develop a way to keep them out of play. I'd rubber band them up or use a paper clip or try to be conscious of keeping the sleeves up when i rolled. Still, they'd slide down, interrupting a rebound by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or a slam by Julius Erving or a long rainbow shot from the E-range (APBA basketball fans - all two you- know what I'm talking about) by George Gervin.

All that came back to me the other night when the hoodie sleeve got in the way of the dice roll. More than 40 years later and I've still got sleeve issues. The memories flooded back to a time when I obsessively played the basketball game, tossing long into the night to complete a game. Despite playing the faster solitaire version of the game, it took a long while to finish one contest. I sat in a wooden chair and played the game on the bed rather than the desk so I'd be motivated to finish the game before retiring for the night. I had a rule as a kid - you can't quit until the game is finished. (I find I do that now with the baseball games as well. You never leave a game in mid-iinning).

Back then my only worries were school homework, girl problems and what we'd all do on the weekend for fun. Now, those worries include home mortgages, health issues, finances, if I turned out well enough in life, being a provider, et al. It was an easier time back then; the only real static in those days was the clacking of the dice in those plastic shakers.

So, the other night, I pushed the sleeve back up, rolled a few more plays and noticed it slid down yet again. I didn't stop, though. I didn't get a rubber band or paper clip to secure the sleeve in the upright position. I just pushed them back up every so often and remembered.

Sometimes, it's best just to let things happen for the memories.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Changes

There's been a lot of changes since last time I filed something on this blog.

I no longer work as a hotel desk clerk. Don't ask for extra towels during the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m shift at one of the town's hotel, 'cause I ain't there. After five months of checking guests in, scrambling to ensure the rooms were clean, folding towels and sheets in the laundry during down times and worrying that the dude who kept coming to the fourth floor, which allows smoking, would trip another fire alarm because he was smoking something besides cigarettes, I'm out. Long story not worth telling, but the scheduling guy quit when I took a week off to go to Chicago in February. When I returned, I noticed I was not on the following week's work schedule. Nor the following week. I had been forgotten, but I saw it as divine intervention in a way and I didn't question why I was left off. I didn't like the job, it paid horribly and the hotel, I presumed, was always on the verge of being shut down for some crisis or another.

But I'm not lamenting the loss of my part-time job in an unstable profession because I finally obtained a full-time job in yet another unstable profession. Yes, I am back in the newspaper business. After I was laid off in October by the newspaper where I had toiled alone as a bureau reporter for nearly 20 years, I was picked up by the daily paper in the town in which I live. I was out of news for four months and two days, but I stumbled my way back in, poised with my reporter pad in hand and an inquisitive "How do you feel?" question a-ready. In a sense, I am working for the paper I competed with for two decades. Talk about odd allegiances.

This time I sit in a newsroom with other reporters and I cover a local beat, rather than the entire quarter of the state. It'll take some adaptation; since there are fewer reporters at this paper, we are expected to crank out more dailies on a quicker pace. There's really not much time to develop a story. We just write. I am truly shovelin' words at the News Factory this time.

And I also work as a part-time security guard during 12-hour shifts on weekends at a local retirement apartment complex. It's mind-numbing work. For the most part, I sit at a desk and answer phones, read books and try to find magazines on line that take freelance writing. But occasionally it gets busy. I've had to help a few residents after they've fallen and I've summoned paramadics a time or two when things really got serious. It is a rewarding job helping older folks.

So, I work seven days a week, trying to carve out some semblance of financial stability for Holly and I. I have no more weekends, I have to mow the yard quickly in the evenings, hoping I have enough stamina to beat the fading sun. And I can't just drop things and haul off to Chicago like I used to love doing.

But it's a job. Actually, it's two jobs.

Despite the 65 hours a week at work, though, I'm finding I do have some time remaining in the days for the continuing APBA replay of the 1991 season I began in 2015. In August, it'll be three years since I began rolling this replay. There's been a lot of life changes since I began, and I've written of that here before. Whenever you start a replay, you know things will cross your life during the replay's duration. This one has been the most eventful I've done in the 20 years of rolling games: Meeting the love of my life, traveling to Chicagoland now 23 times and back, getting a new car, losing a job, struggling, dealing with health problems, shutting off the cable and internet to save bucks and fearing money issues have all been part of this replay.

The other night, though, all that was put aside and I rolled several games in a row. Minnesota beat Detroit and the Twins continue their lead in the American League West. Boston clubbed Texas and Oakland out-homered Cleveland (Canseco was on pace to hit 61 homers for the As, but has cooled off lately). The Cubs swept Houston in a three-game series and St. Louis is getting closer to National League East leader Pittsburgh after going on a winning streak. The problems, while still lurking around the corner, waiting for me to face them head on again, were at least secondary during the game play. It was a moment of peaceful bliss.

I get home earlier at my new newspaper job, so there's more time in the evenings. I'm also learning again to sleep for only 4 to 5 hours a night, so that frees up time for an extra late night game or two.

Life changes, but the APBA game stays the same. It's really one of the main reasons we play this game.

Friday, February 16, 2018

No No-Nos

I am over halfway through the 1991 APBA baseball replay and I've only had one no-hitter so far during the season. For some, rolling a no-hit game is extremely rare, so having one after playing   1,100 games may not be so odd.

But I've had several no hitters during the past 19 years that I've been doing APBA season replays. Maybe it's the way I roll the dice; maybe it's pure luck and I have the right pitcher with the right rating on the mound when batters face him. Maybe it's that I've played thousands and thousands of games over the past two decades and, simply because of statistical occurrence, no-hit games are bound to happen. You know, that ol' put an infinite number of monkeys in a room with an infinite amount of typewriters and one chimp eventually will pound out the works of Shakespeare over time.

In this 1991 season, though, a no-hit game is as scarce as a clean, steroid-free Jose Canseco stepping up to the plate for the As. And that may be why the no-hitters are so few. The APBA game company cards each player, giving him numbers to replicate his actual seasons. I've noticed at least one or two starting batters on several teams have a '7' on their cards, which is a pretty much a universal number for a base hit regardless of who is pitching most of the time. Put 'em in and they're apt to get a hit.

These 1991 games are not hitfests, though. There are very few games where teams score in the double digits. Instead, teams average from eight to 12 hits a game. Scores like 5-3 are common.

Bob Tewksbury of the St. Louis Cardinals has the only no-hitter so far in this replay. He walked two and struck out five in San Francisco, leading the Cards to a 4-0 victory. His two walks came in the first inning.

Tewks was no Johnny Vander Meer in his next game. Vander Meer, fans know, tossed consecutive no-hit games in June 1938 when he beat Boston and then Brooklyn. Instead, Tewskbury went six innings against San Diego, giving up six runs and 10 hits before he was mercifully relieved.

I've had a few games get close. Chris Nabholz of the hapless Montreal Expos was perfect through four innings in a recent contest against the Mets. He lost his bid when Howard Johnson blooped a single in the fifth and then Nabholz shut down New York, leading the Expos to one of their few wins of the season.

Dennis Martinez, also of the Expos, took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a hit to the Cubs.

I wanted to compare similar seasons to see if the rarity of no-hit games was common. The last comparable season I did to 1991 was 1981 a few years ago. In that replay season, I saw eight no-hitters. Ron Guidry shut down the Rangers; Doc Medich led Texas over the White Sox; Tom Seaver of the Reds edged Houston, 1-0, in 10 innings; Burt Hooton of the Dodgers shut down the Cubs and his teammate, Jerry Reuss, no-hit Atlanta; Rick Rhoden of the Pirates didn't give up a base hit to Cincinnati; John Denny no-hit Minnesota for Cleveland; and Cubs' pitcher Doug Bird shut down Houston.

In the 1981 replay, I averaged a no-hitter every 263.25 games.

I looked back on the past 100 games in the 1991 replay to see when teams got their first hit of the game. Visting teams recorded their initial hit in the first inning of a game 48 times. The home team did the same in 41 games. Visitors got their first hit of a game 17 times in the second inning, compared to 18 times for the homers. Basically, 65 percent of the time, visiting teams will get a hit by the second inning and the home team will get one 59 percent of the time in the first two frames.

Tonight, I reached Game No. 1107 in the 1991 replay. If I stay on this pace, I'll be lucky to have two no-hit games for the year. In the real 1991 season, five pitchers tossed no-hitters, including Nolan Ryan who hurled his seventh of his career.

I'll keep rolling, and I'll get anxious if a pitcher gets into the later innings without giving up a hit. I know talking about a no-hitter in progress is bad luck, but they are so far and few in this replay season, that I'll have to take notice when one nears.