Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1991 Update: May 31, 1991

I've been replaying the 1991 baseball season with APBA now for 609 days and I've reached June 1, 1991. I finished Game # 600— the last replay game for the month of May — late the other night when Nolan Ryan struck out 12 in a complete game and led the Texas Rangers over the Seattle Mariners.

Six hundred games in 609 days. That's less than a game a day with this replay. In the past, I've been able to play four to five games a day. In my previous life, I would have easily completed this 1991 replay and its 2,106 games within 609 days. But life changes and priorities differ. At least, though, the game is still part of that life as limited as it is now.

That said, I've recently picked up the pace of games and still find time to roll three or four games some nights. And, like I say during every single replay I've done, this is a good replay. The 1991 season is fun because it's a year I closely watched baseball. The Minnesota Twins, my favorite team, won the World Series that year. I'm hoping the replay replicates that success. However, the Twins have to get past Seattle first; the Mariners are a surprising team in this replay. In the real season, the team finished in fifth place. Currently, at June 1, the Mariners are three games ahead of the Twins and with 31 victories already, they have the second most wins of any team in the league.

Here are the standings through May 31, 1991:

East Division W   L  GB
Toronto         33   15   -
Boston           24   22   8
Detroit           24   22   8
Milwaukee    21   25   11
New York     19    25   12
Baltimore     19    26   12.5
Cleveland     12    32   19

West Division W   L  GB
Seattle            31   17   -
Minnesota      28   20   3
Chicago         24   20   5
California      24   23   6.5
Texas             22   21   6.5
Kansas City   22   24    8
Oakland        18    29   12.5

East Division    W   L  GB
Pittsburgh        30   15   -
St. Louis          27   19  3.5
New York        25   20   5
Philadelphia    24   23   7
Chicago          22    25   9
Montreal        10     37   21

West Division   W   L   GB
Cincinnati         31  15    -
Atlanta              28  16    2
San Diego         28  21   4.5
Los Angeles      24  23   7.5
Houston            16   31  15.5
San Francisco   14   34   18

And here are the leaders in a few categories as well:
American League
Home runs : Canseco, Oak., 16; Thomas, Chi., 15; Tettleton, Det., 13; Hrbek, Minn., 12
Wins: Wegman, Mil., 8-2; Stottlemyre, Tor., 7-2; Key, Tor, 7-3; Tapani, Minn., 7-4
Saves: Harvey, Cal., 10; Montgomery, KC, 10; Reardon, Bos., 9; Russell, Tex., 9
National League
Home runs: Strawberry, NYM, 15; Mitchell, SF, 14; Johnson, NYM, 13; McGriff, S.D., 13
Wins: Glavine, Atl., 10-0; Cone, NYM, 8-3; Smiley, Pitt., 7-1; Z. Smith, Pitt., 7-2
Saves: Dibble, Cin, 12; L. Smith, StL, 9; Franco, NYM, 8; Howell, LA, 7

Along with Seattle, there have been a few other surprises. The New York Mets have played well and are in third place, paced behind Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry's bats and David Cone's pitching. Even Mets' reliever John Franco is chipping in, saving eight games so far. In the real season, Franco saved 30 games in 1991.

Cincinnati won 12 games in a row at the end of May and winning 15 of 16, overtaking Atlanta for first in the West Division. Chris Sabo and Barry Larkin lead the Reds with seven home apiece.

Toronto is no surprise. The Blue Jays are running away with their division. During each replay I've done in the 18 years I've played APBA baseball, I've discovered that there's always one team in a season that finds a variety of ways to win. Toronto is that team this year. The Blue Jays could fall behind by three or four runs early in a game and then have an explosive inning and take the lead. Nine Blue Jays have hit homers already. (There are only 12 players carded for the Blue Jays in APBA's 1991 season, not including the eight pitchers.)

Montreal continues to be really, really bad and San Francisco is trying to mirror the Expos. The Giants lost 10 games in a row from May 21 to May 30.

Finally, in a stunning development, I have decided to keep more detailed stats in this replay. I've tried a few times before to compile batting averages and ERA only to have my computers crash each time. I had planned to use zip drives, but never got around to copying my stat results on them. This time, I plan to log batting averages, RBIs, home runs, innings pitched, walks and strike outs. I've gone back and recorded stats from about 170 games so far. It's opened an entirely new realm of this game and I understand why APBA players do it. For example, after the 170 games, I can see that Tony Gwynn is batting only .217 and Vince Coleman is hitting a stellar .377 so far.

It's still very early in the season. I am only 28 percent of the way done with this year, so things can change. I'm hoping the Twins taking over first place will be one of those changes.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Opening Day

It's Opening Day today, a time when, they say, hope springs eternal.

For baseball fans, it's an exciting day. We've waited for this since the last out of the World Series in November, enduring the cold of winter and watching only the endless run of NBA games and the occasional NHL telecast for our sports fix. In late January and February, we watched golf if only to see a hint of the green grass that is the staple of all baseball field summer viewings.

But it's here today. Actually, I am aware that the official Opening Day was yesterday when three games were played. But for the most part today is the day when it really kicks off. And for me, it's the one time of the year that I can say my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, are tied for first place. Sure, they're 0-0, but so is everyone else.The Twins were also 0-9 before their first win last year. Yes, hope springs eternal for some. For me, hope sprung a leak by about the second week of last season.

That's what gives us that feeling today on Opening Day, though. We're all at the starting gate, each of our teams has a chance. Look at the Cubs' season last year. It took 108 years, but Chicago won the World Series. Of course, the Cubs took a few years to meticulously build the winning team through trades and drafts and a genius general manager in Theo Epstein (I'm reading The Cubs Way about last year's Cubs). But we're hoping our teams also have done the same thing during the off season.

Apparently, everyone does. In 2014, former Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith and Budweiser tried to make Opening Day a national holiday and gathered over 102,000 signatures on a petition they sent to the White House. That attempt was denied a few weeks later. But in that denial, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted Opening Day was a “state of mind where anything is possible.”

The Twins open today at home, hosting Kansas City. I've got on my work computer to keep an eye on the score. Ervin Santana will soon throw the first pitch to Alex Gordon and the Twins' season will embark. And I've found some Minnesota FM radio station streaming on line to be able to hear the game.

Within a few weeks, most of us baseball fans will be grounded, realizing our team won't win every game it plays. Being a Twins fan at this time means being excited for a third-place finish out of five teams. But there's always that hope and it begins today.

I think us APBA players get the Opening Day feeling as well whenever we start replaying a full season. There is a replica of the excitement of the actual season, of the voyage we will undertake when beginning a replay. And the same wonderment occurs with the game. Will our team do well in the replay? There's always that chance. Which team will surprise us? Which players will stand out? And, the fun part of APBA... we can have Opening Days any day. I've begun replay seasons in late summer, early spring, winter.

So now, it's the bottom of the fourth inning. Mike Moustakas homered for the Royals in the top of the inning to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead. But, Twins' third baseman Miguel Sano just hit one out and the game is tied, 1-1. The Twins remain tied for first. Hope is still springing.

**NOTE: at 6:03pm, Twins won their Opening Day game for the first time since 2008, beating Kansas City, 7-1. Hope keeps on springing.**