Monthly Archives: January 2016

Season Preview: #5 Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto held steady in 1984, duplicating their record from ’83 while improving a roster that would go on to win the American League East the following season.

Ultimately it would turn out to be the Jays’ glory years as they would go on to win the division 5 of the next 9 seasons as well as picking up a pair of World Series wins.

While this ’84 team wasn’t exactly world-beaters, they were above average in both offense and pitching.  Had they played in a division that didn’t include the Detroit Tigers, who knows what may have happened.

Dave Stieb

Dave Stieb

Dave Stieb (16-8, 2.83) and Doyle Alexander (17-6, 3.13) are about as solid a 1-2 at the top of a rotation as you’ll find in the league, but the team’s bullpen did them in with only Roy Lee Jackson (3.56) finishing with an ERA below 4.

At the plate, the team led the league in doubles, triples, and stolen bases.

Leading the team in that last category was left fielder Dave Collins (60 SB), second baseman Damaso Garcia (46) and center fielder Lloyd Moseby (39).  Three others finished with double digit totals in that category.

If the team can lean heavily on Stieb and Alexander, they might make some noise.

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Season Preview: #6 New York Yankees

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly

The New York Yankees won 5 divisions and 4 pennants between 1976 and 1981 and then fell into a rut of 13 straight seasons without a playoff appearance.

Granted, they were leading the AL East in 1994 when the strike hit, so that probably should have only been 12 seasons, but I digress.

On the positive side, they were above .500 every season between ’83 and ’88.

The 1984 season was a tale of two halves for the Bronx Bombers.

After a 4-game losing streak that ended July 2nd, the Yankees found themselves with a 33-43 mark for a .434 winning percentage.

From that point forward, they went 54-32, finishing with a .628 winning percentage.

An 87-75 finish was good enough for 3rd place, far behind the Detroit Tigers juggernaut.

Don Mattingly had an awesome season at first base.  The 23-year old hit .343 with 23 HR and 110 RBI, striking out just 33 times in 662 plate appearances.  He also posted a .381 on-base percentage.

Veteran right-fielder Dave Winfield gave them a powerful 1-2 punch, batting .340 with a .393 on-base percentage, collecting 19 HR and 100 RBI.

Not to be forgotten was 35-year old designated hitter Don Baylor who hit a team-best 27 homers.

Leading the pitching staff was 45-year old Phil Niekro, who went 16-8 with a 3.09 ERA.

Dave Righetti was one of the league’s best closers, saving 31 games and putting up a 2.34 ERA while striking out 8.4 men per 9 innings.

The team finished 4th in runs scored and runs allowed, so they’re clearly an above average team with a good chance to make some noise in the replay.

But if the Tigers play up to their expectations, it’s hard to expect too much from any other team that plays in the AL East.

Season Preview: #7 Boston Red Sox

The 1984 American League was a strange thing, as the top 5 teams in the Eastern Division all had records better than the Western Division champions.

In 4th place were the 86-76 Boston Red Sox, who suffered their 9th straight season without a division championship.

The team was one-dimensional, with one of the best offenses in the American League being paired up with a lower-end pitching staff.

Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs

Leading the attack, of course, was third baseman Wade Boggs with a .325 AVG and .407 OBP.

Besides Boggs setting the table, the BoSox sported  a quintet of 20-homer hitters: Tony Armas (43), Dwight Evans (32), Jim Rice (28), Mike Easler (27) and Rich Gedman (24).

Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda, and Oil Can Boyd each went 12-12, which is pretty remarkable.

The best part of the pitching staff was a 21-year old who made 20 starts and averaged 8.5 strikeouts per 9 innings – Roger Clemens.

News Flashback: Mac

Macintosh_128k_transparency

On January 24th, Apple Computer’s personal computer, Macintosh, went on sale in the United States.

Two days prior, Apple released this Ridley Scott-directed commercial during the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.

According to Wikipedia:

The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-up sales were not strong due to its high price and limited range of software titles. The machine’s fortunes changed with the introduction of the LaserWriter, the first PostScript laser printer to be sold at a reasonable price, and PageMaker, an early desktop publishing package. It has been suggested that the combination of these three products were responsible for the creation of the desktop publishing market. The Macintosh was particularly powerful in the desktop publishing market due to its advanced graphics capabilities, which had necessarily been built in to create the intuitive Macintosh GUI.

Season Preview: #8 Baltimore Orioles

cal-ripken-autographed-baltimore-orioles-1984-sport-magazine-1At 85-77, the Baltimore Orioles certainly had a very respectable season in 1984. Unfortunately, being in the American League East meant a 5th place finish, as they finished 19 games back, though only 4 games back of 2nd.

Also, they had just won the World Series in ’83, so anything less than that was technically a disappointment.

They started off the season with four straight losses, falling to 4-12 on April 23rd.  At that point they already trailed 9.5 games behind a scorching hot Detroit Tigers squad.

Baltimore went nuts in May, going 18-8.  Unfortunately that did them no good as they still trailed by 10.5 games.

The O’s ended up spending almost the entire season in 3rd place.  What pushed them into a season-ending 5th place finish was a rough 3-10 stretch in late September.

The O’d finished with the 2nd best runs allowed total in the American League.  Mike Boddicker (20-11, 2.79, 16 CG), Storm David (14-9, 3.12, 10 CG), Mike Flanagan (13-13, 3.53, 10 CG) and Scott McGregor (15-12, 3.94, 10 CG) form perhaps the best top four rotation in the league.

The lineup, however, was a touch below average, finishing 9th in runs scored.

Eddie Murray (.306, 29 HR, 110 RBI) had a monster season at the plate.  As did 23-year old shortstop Cal Ripken, who hit .304 with 27 HR and 86 RBI in an era before shortstops did things like that.  Cal Junior was also one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.

Add in Wayne Gross (22 HR) and Mike Young (17 HR) and the O’s had a quartet of guys with 15+ homers for the season.

Despite have a few decent power hitters, they finished 12th in batting average and 12th in stolen bases, so the lineup was done in by being fairly one-dimensional.

1984 was the beginning of a 12-year stretch without a playoff appearance for the Orioles.  They’d return to the ALCS in ’96 when former infielder Davey Johnson took over as their manager.

Season Preview: #9 Kansas City Royals

13645085It’s weird writing this now in light of the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series championship, but my original post for this made light of how bad the franchise has been as of late.

Instead I was trying to focus on how great the team had been during the mid-70s to mid-80s before collapsing into suckitude. (Obviously no longer a valid point.)

In a ten-year window spanning 1976-1985, the Royals won six division titles, two pennants, and a World Series in ’85.

Granted, this ’84 squad isn’t necessarily the most representative.  They “won” the division with a paltry 84-78 mark, just 3 games ahead of the Angels and Twins.

Even more embarrassing, they actually allowed more runs than they scored, so it’s almost unexpected that they finished above .500.

And, yes, they were mercilessly swept by the Tigers in the American League Championship Series, as one may have expected.

What might be interesting to see in this replay is not only whether or not KC can win the AL West Division again but also, if not, if the winner will fare better against the mighty ’84 Tigers.

The Royals’ 1984 season began inauspiciously, as they basically traded wins and losses for the first three weeks, starting off with an 8-8 mark.

Then things went south, including a 7-game losing streak while losing 12 of 14.

That dropped them to a season-worst 9-18 mark in the second week of May.  They were in 6th place and 6 games back of 1st.

Winning 6 of 7 in early June brought them back to almost even, getting up to 26-27, but that was followed by losing 8 of 9 and they fell again to 9 games below .500 at 28-37.

One month later, they were again woeful at 40-51, now a full 11 games under even.

But the final two months of the season, things turned around.  The Royals went 34-23 in the final two months of the season, taking over 1st place on September 5th, only falling out of the lead position for one day.

The top hitters for the team which ranked 11th in scoring, were corner infielders Steve Balboni (28 HR) and George Brett (.284), while Willie Wilson hit .301 with 47 stolen bases as the starting center fielder.

On the mound, Bud Black (17-12, 3.12) was spectacular.  As was closer Dan Quisenberry (44 Sv, 2.64).

Past that , the pitching staff was mainly mediocre.

This will be an interesting team to watch.

Song Flashback: Owner of a Lonely Heart

On January 21st, 1984, Yes knocked Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s “Say Say Say” out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

For two weeks, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” led the countdown.

I have a strong memory of this song that’s connected to my brother’s early days fiddling around with one of the early personal computers.

He had found some program somewhere that had “Owner of a Lonely Heart” available as a digital four-track. These were sub-mixes, so the drums were one stereo channel, keyboard another, guitars another, and bass another. My memory could be off on that.

Anyhow, you could play the song back and hit keys to decide which instruments you wanted playing at any given time. Again, I’m not sure if I’m imagining this all, because downloading something like that back in the day over a dial-up modem…  it would have taken forever for him to get that, so maybe I’m way off on this one.

Anyhow, this song was never my bag, but I certainly had some friends who were into it. I was never much of a “prog” guy.

Yes enjoyed two weeks at the end of January, 1984, with the #1 song in the States.