Monthly Archives: March 2015

#40 – Bud Black, SP

Bud Black

Bud Black

A 17th round draft pick, Harry Ralston “Bud” Black enjoyed a 15-year career in the big leagues, finishing with 121 wins, a 3.84 ERA and 1,039 strikeouts.

He finished with a career-best 17 wins in 1984, leading the Kansas City Royals to an AL West division title.

Black finished with a league-best 1.128 WHIP while his Wins and ERA also finished among the American League’s 10 best.

At the end of his pitching career, Black went on to a life in coaching.

He was the Angels’ pitching coach between 2000 and 2006 and then went on to act as the San Diego Padres’ manager.

Black won the 2010 National League Manager of the Year Award.

#41 – Mark Langston, SP

Mark Langston

Mark Langston

Left-handed pitcher Mark Langston burst onto the scene in a big way, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1984.

Pitching for a woeful Seattle Mariners team, Langston went 17-10 with a 3.40 ERA, striking out a league-high 204.

He also walked a league-high 118, but let’s focus on the positives here!

Langston remained one of the top strikeout artists of the 1980s, finishing with a league-best strikeouts per 9 mark in ’84, ’86 and ’87 with Seattle and ’89 with the Montreal Expos.

As a historical footnote, Langston started that 1989 season still with Seattle, but was dealt to the Expos for future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

Langston went on to work radio color commentary for the Los Angeles Angels, also serving as host of a post-game talk show.

I enjoy a high strikeout pitcher and having Langston’s card out on the table will definitely make it much easier to handle rolling some of these games with a bad Mariners team.

Milestone

_71922912_100_thinkstockI just realized that I reached a milestone last night in having rolled the 100th game of the project.

With 64 games per team and all 26 teams participating, that means rolling 832 games in total.

I remember as a kid trying to roll all 162 games for the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays with APBA using the master version and thinking I would never get it done.

Well, I didn’t.  I managed to finish about 80 games, however.  In hindsight, I had no excuse to not get that done.  I didn’t have a job, wife or kids yet!  Come on, young Chris, what’s wrong with you?!

I’m trying to get one “day” worth of games completed per week, which has been pretty manageable.  Basically means rolling two games a day and usually getting to take a day or two off as well so I stay fresh.

I’ve been wanting to dive into an NBA project I was starting, using teams from the 1997-98 season.  I do enjoy the Strat Basketball game and I was a fan of the NBA during “The Jordan Era”.

But so far I just haven’t been able to have enough open time to get cracking on that.

If I only have one project going at any given time I find that I can kind of lose my excitement for it.

Actually, let me amend that.

When I’m doing a 6-team, 30-game project that only requires me to roll 90 games in total, that is not something I have trouble just steam-rolling through.

But this?  This here is a different animal.

The project is off to a good start.

Among the real division winners, only one of them is in 1st place so far, another one is in a virtual tie for 1st (although they are percentage points behind), another one is in 5th place and well below .500 despite having a positive run differential, and another one is in 6th place but has also won 3 straight games now so maybe things are picking up for them.

There have been slug-fests with over 25 combined runs.

And there have been pitcher’s duels.

There have been plenty of shutouts and a few near no-hitters, including a pair of near no-nos that I rolled up on the same day back-to-back!  That was nuts.

There has been a player who hit 1 homer in about 500 plate appearances who improbably managed to have a two-homer game.

And there have been a few surprise teams who have gotten off to solid starts.

So it’s your usual early-season fare!

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the end.

The Top 50 of 1984 Countdown continues tomorrow!  Thanks for following!

#42 – Dwayne Murphy, CF

Dwayne Murphy

Dwayne Murphy

At 29 years old, Dwayne Murphy entered the 1984 season having had several very nice, if not necessarily spectacular, seasons in Major League Baseball.

A 15th round draft pick, he had spent all his years with the Oakland Athletics thus far, finishing 11th in MVP voting in 1981 after hitting just .251 with 15 HR.

His numbers the next two years slumped.

In ’82, he hit 27 homers, but batted just .238 and struck out 122 times.  On the bright side, he stole 26 bases for the second time in his career.

In ’83, he was all the way down to .227 with 17 HR.

But one thing Murphy always had even when his hitting slumped was a glove.

He took home Gold Glove awards for his play in center field every year between 1980 and 1985.

In ’84, the stars aligned.

Murphy hit a career best 33 HR, posting a .256 batting average.

Strat-o-Matic gave him a 1 in center field, making him a valuable card in the 1984 set.  Having a guy in that position with a 1 who can also crush 30+ homers is a rare thing, indeed.

Together with Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy formed one of the better outfields in the 1984 season.

300 Days Away

We are 300 days away from the start of daily posts to the 1984 MLB Replay blog.

Why so far away?  Well, I really wanted to get all the games “in the can” first and then post on them.  So these games have already been rolled; they just haven’t been posted yet.  Everything has been “post-dated” – games that were rolled in September of 2014 might not actually appear on the blog until January of 2015.

That’s just how I roll…  (Sorry. Horrible pun.)

Don’t forget to subscribe!

#43 – Frank Viola, SP

Frank Viola

Frank Viola

Frank Viola finished 6th in Cy Young voting in 1984, posting an 18-12 mark with a 3.21 ERA in his 3rd Major League season.

Things came together for him at age 24, having posted ERAs on the bad side of 5 in his first two seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

His biggest improvement was in avoiding bats.  His walk and strikeout rates remained fairly consistent, but his hits per 9 innings went from over 10 to just under 8.

In 1984, Viola finished among the league leaders in ERA, Wins, Strikeouts, WHIP, Innings Pitched and Shutouts.

1984 started a run of five straight 15-win seasons for Viola.

His numbers came back to earth the next two seasons before he finally blossomed into one of the better pitchers in baseball.  His best season came in 1988 when he won the Cy Young award going 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA.

 

Jeff Polman, “Mystery Ball ’58”

51N1DCECZvLThose who follow Strat-O-Matic are probably well familiar with Jeff Polman.

He’s a frequent contributor to the official Strat-O-Matic website, he runs popular leagues that are followed on Facebook, and his writings have appeared in Huffington Post among other places.

He has published several books which chronicle his replays of past seasons using Strat-O, the catch being that he uses those replays as background for a larger story.

His latest is “Mystery Ball ’58”, which is done in the style of a pulp detective novel.  As the title may suggest, Jeff used the 1958 season as the backdrop for his latest effort.

Not only is Jeff a talented writer and tireless re-player, he has also officially authorized me to out him as a future contributor to this site.

I’ve been rounding up a “who’s who” of baseball sim replayers to contribute to the site as well as people who I grew up with who were a part of my life in the ’80s.

I’m really excited about how it’s all coming together.  The submissions I’ve been receiving from folks like Jeff has been really fun to read and it’s been great getting those pages ready for publication.

If you’d like to order Jeff’s new book, I recommend using CreateSpace because that’s the program he used to do the interior design.

You can also find it on Amazon starting this week for the same price.

A Kindle version is planned soon.