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Twins Continue Alternate 1984

Back to the Future II – Home of the Alternate 1985.  Marty McFly was in disarray, Biff Tannen built his evil empire Biffco, and the future of Hill Valley hung in the balance of mad-scientist/inventor Doc Emmet Brown.  All because Gray’s Sports Almanac wound up in the wrong hands.  As the story goes, Marty and Doc were able to destroy the almanac to put Biff in his place, Marty didn’t suffer his life-shattering car accident, and Doc Brown was commended (not committed). Those movies are timeless; movies like these are just as exciting and fun to watch now as they were 30 years ago. That’s also one of the many beauties of APBA Baseball. You look at the APBA cards of players from yesteryear, and no matter how little or long it’s been since a particular player has played, it instantly brings you back to that time period.  APBA has made me more of a student of the game’s history and rekindled more baseball memories than any other avenue I can think of.

For the past few months when time allows, I’ve enjoying an alternate 1984 in the comforts of my home and other locations compliments of APBA Baseball Master Game.  After replaying the Oakland A’s seasons of 1987, 88, and 89, I’m smack dab in the middle of a season replay of the 1984 Minnesota Twins.  Being a fellow lifelong Minnesotan (born in 1980), I was not aware of how close these ’84 Twins were to winning the American League West that year (3 GB).  Because of this, and the fact I’ve yet to play much with any Twins team, I wanted to put this club to the test to see if they could possibly leapfrog their way to the top.

So far, it’s been a very rewarding replay to say the least.  The 1987 A’s certainly weren’t dominant (my first replay), but the ’88 and ’89 teams were.  It’s been a nice change to go back to a team that really you can say has a 50/50 chance to win (’84 Twins finished 81-81).  There’s a tremendous amount of parity in the American League in 1984.  And it’s clear that the Detroit Tigers by FAR have a lineup that can hurt you in a hurry!  They are above and beyond better than the other 13 teams from my experience here thus far.  I began this replay in October of 2015 and now, I’m just about to the halfway point.  I went about four months without rolling a game, but now with baseball coaching all wrapped up, countered with gallbladder removal/hernia surgery next week, I’ll be forced to have some seat time.  Wishful thinking will have me in the basement rolling some APBA games. I’ve found that out since my APBA playing days began six years ago that there will be times when I’m “into” the game and times I’m not.  The luxury, though, is that it’ll be sitting there….on my  simply card table….in the basement….ready to go whenever I need a fix.  The ’84 Twins are 42-35, one full game ahead of the California Angels and three games

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A losing streak of six games has trimmed the Twins’ divisional lead to one game.

ahead of their actual ’84 counterparts.  The Twins, however, are mired in a season-long six game losing skid.  In the middle of that stretch were four heartbreaking losses by either a run or the game was lost in the last at-bat.  I’m beginning to have a real LOVE-HATE relationship with closer Ron Davis (CX, MG 6).  He’s put up OK numbers in the bullpen as the closer and is on pace for a mind-boggling 40 saves!  But in a recent game against Detroit, he blew leads twice in Minnesota’s 9-7 loss at Tiger Stadium.  The first time he blew the save opportunity walking, of all people, Tom Brookens with two outs and the bases loaded to force in the tying run in the 9th (he struck out Lou Whitaker to get out of the jam).  In the top of the 10th, Randy Bush’s solo homer put the Twins up 7-6 going into the bottom of the 10th.  With two outs, Davis walked Lance Parrish and Dave Bergman before Rupert Jones’ 66-1 sent the Tigers to the clubhouse winners on a walk-off three-run homerun.  Frustrating, but unpredictable at the same time!  There’ve been a few Ron Davis meltdowns up to this juncture and I’m sure there will be more, but for now, he’s converted 20 of 25 save opportunities…enough to keep his job.

The ’84 Twins possess three very serviceable starting pitchers.  John Butcher (BZ, MG 11) has been the clear leader of the staff.  He still has put up big numbers despite being roughed up in his last two starts, and if his success continues, he could be in the running for the Alternate 1984 AL Cy Young Award.  Frank Viola (BYZ, MG 14) didn’t make it out of the second inning in a recent 15-0 loss in Detroit, allowing 8 earned runs as Sparky’s boys clubbed the southpaw into oblivion.  Other than that, Viola has been able to go deep into games.

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The ’84 Twins pitching staff features three effective starters and the rest is potpourri! Ron Davis has an ugly WHIP right now!

Mike Smithson (BZ, MG 10) is the third leg of the starting-pitching tripod, and he too has been pretty decent.  Having three slightly better-than-average starters will give this team a chance.  The bullpen is putrid.  Davis, Len Whitehouse (C, MG 7), and Rick Lysander (CZ, 9) see most of the action, especially if the game is close.  After that, it’s all D pitchers and a whole lot of praying!

Offensively, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Mickey Hatcher, and Tom Brunansky are all making up for any pitching deficiencies this team may experience at any given time.  All four players are far-exceeding their real ’84 alter-egos.  Hrbek especially has been the key cog in the lineup, and is on pace for a possible Triple-Crown push.  Puckett and Hatcher are a solid 1-2 punch in the lineup and have been excellent table-setters for Hrbek and Brunansky.  After these guys, however, runs can be hard to come by.  Randy Bush has come on recently, and Houston Jimenez is hitting at a surprising .273 clip in the #9 hole.

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Hrbek, Hatcher, Puckett, and Brunansky have provided Minnesota’s offensive punch.

Gary Gaetti, Dave Engle, Tim Laudner, and Tim Teufel all provide offense albeit sporadically.  Gaetti played in all 162 games in 1984, hitting a lone 5 HR.  I will stay true to this as his “5” rating at third base is just too good to leave on the bench.  But his .302 slugging percentage is a sad sight!!  Ron Washington’s pitiful “7” shortstop rating hasn’t earned him the right to being in the lineup consistently, but his .306 average might earn him a few more starts than what he’s gotten up to this point.  He’s a great pinch-hitting or pinch-running option late. Teufel has also appeared in all of the team’s 77 games so far, but his days are numbered.

With this replay, I wanted to do a “Big Three” of sorts – three moves, trades, or significant changes to create an “alternative,” yet realistic replay.  The first

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Castino’s full potential will never be known.  Could he have helped the ’84 Twins to the AL West title?

“move” was inserting Kirby Puckett into the starting lineup during the first week of the season instead of waiting for his early-May call up to the bigs.  So far, I’m pleased with that decision as Puckett’s been quite consistent, and really should’ve been playing ahead of Darrell Brown since Day 1 anyway.  It took me awhile to figure out what my second “move” would be until recently.  John Castino, the 1979 co-AL Rookie of the Year, played his final season of his all-too-short MLB career in 1984.  Chronic back issues forced his early retirement following the 1984 season as he aggravated it during a game in May, sliding into home at Anaheim Stadium.  As a kid, hearing stories about Castino from my brother Ben and other old Twins fans, I’ve always wondered “what could’ve been” had Castino been healthy.  Would he have been a piece of the Twins’ championships later down the road?  Could the Twins have maybe earned more post-season berths?  All-Star games? Gold Gloves?  We’ll never know. HOWEVER….in APBA-land, we could at least find out if Castino has the wherewithal to give the ’84 Twins the push they need to win the AL West.

How can I accomplish this and yet keep this realistic with integrity?  Here is my idea.  Castino has not played since early May, just as in real 1984 as he’s been nursing his back.  My plan is after the All-Star Break, to insert him back into the lineup as the regular second baseman with Teufel as backup with some starts here and there.  Castino has a MONSTER card in 1984 as he hit .444 in his 8 games played.  I’m not going to fully use that card as that would be completely unrealistic.

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Casino’s APBA Baseball cards.  Each card will be thrown into the fire for Castino’s comeback.  Top row (L to R) 1979, 1980, 1981.  Bottom row (L to R) 1982, 1983, 1984.

My plan is this – any game that Castino plays in (starts, pinch hits, etc), I’ll roll one die.  Whatever the number rolled is will correspond to the card I’ll use for him in that particular game.  If a one is rolled, I’ll use his 1979 card, a two, 1980, and so on.  If a six is rolled, well, the Twins and Castino will really benefit.  Who knows – he could have had a career season in ’84 (no way he’d kept up his .444 clip), but at least this way, it will provide the opportunity to at least have his that epic card in the mix.  Because he was an “8” second baseman for fielding during his last two full seasons (’82 and ’83), he will remain an 8 in every game I play, and a “4” if he has to play third base.  He will never be an “F” despite what his first two cards say.  For everything else “Master Game” related, I’m going to keep it simple and use Teufel’s ratings for arm strength, stealing allowance, etc.  For batting characteristics, no matter what the card, I’ll use the default -1/-1  for lefty/righty pitchers.  I want this to be interesting enough to answer all of my “what-ifs” with Castino, to be random enough where there are six varieties of cards to use, but not overcomplicate this where I’m yanking my teeth out.  I can’t wait to see how this unfolds.  My opinion, simply is I wish Castino had been a part of the Twins run of titles because he deserved the opportunity to be a contributor, if not a leader.  The ’84 Twins have seven games before the All-Star break, so it will be awhile before Castino returns, but it will be worth the wait!

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April Twin Cities APBA Tournament a Rousing Success

Hello All!

Yep — this is a little tardy, and the post is a bit gargantuan, but life continues to pass by with little “down” time for this 35 year old.  I’ve decided to dust off the ol’ blog and get back at it after hiatus.  My name is Beau Lofgren and I’m what you could call a baseball junkie and APBA Baseball enthusiast.  I’ve played APBA for about six years now after discovering it while watching my laid-back uncle-in-law Doug, who’s an incredible guy, would play it in his pop-up camper at family reunions (see earlier entries to get my full APBA story). After years of curiosity, it got the best of me and now, it’s the ONLY game I’ll play (when I have time to play).  I’m an elementary teacher and am in the middle of summer break.  You’d think you’d have more time to play APBA right?  Well, not necessarily.  When you’re a father of three young boys (Jonny 7, Carter 4, Luke 1), and your wife works and doesn’t come home until 7-8 PM some nights, time available after the kids are finally in bed is usually used to “catch up” on life by squeezing in a short conversation with my wife (Tonia), do what you didn’t get done and then try to get ready to do it all over again the next day!  Meals, naps, diaper changes, bike rides/walks, get the mail at the PO, swimming lessons, baseball practice, summer reading program…..days are JAM PACKED! On top of that, I am having my gall bladder removed on Friday after passing a gall stone (worst pain I’ve ever endured), so I’m hoping maybe I’ll be able to play some APBA next week as I can’t really do any physical activity.  I’m not worried about it, but I just have to be smart in the short term after it.  Amid the business, I wouldn’t want it any other way, though.  I am lucky, having a front-row seat seeing my boys grow up while making memories along the way.   They’re happy and healthy, and I have the good Lord to thank for that! God is Good – All the Time! I know I’ll have plenty of time on the backside of my teaching career and beyond to pursue personal interests at a more liberal pace.

Back in April of this year, I was fortunate enough to participate in the 5th installment of the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament. Mr. Twin Cities and tournament organizer  himself, Jim Fraasch, included me on the tournament emails and information back in February of 2015.  He stumbled upon my blog, invited me to join his “mob,” and now there’s no turning back!  My first tournament experience was back in October of 2015 at the 4th TC Tournament. Gracious tournament host Darrell Skogen along with Jim had everything ready to go.  I couldn’t believe so many guys as die-hard as me about baseball were there….playing a BOARD GAME no less!  It was awesome, and my 1989 A’s even squeaked into the playoffs!

In April, my brother Ben Lofgren (who went from APBA nay-sayer to ABPA-ADDICT) and I traveled down the night before the tournament.  We live in Hawley, MN, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from the Twin Cities.  The whole way down was rather fun!  We both teach in the same building – Hawley Elementary School – but even THAT doesn’t allow us to be as close as we’d like to.  So – this budgeted time is an excellent way to not only discuss current events, but to also turn back the clock and feel like we’re stuck in 1992 again!  As we did before, we stayed with my uncle-in-law Doug as we rolled in at about 10 PM that night.  A few weeks prior, Doug totally floored me when his wife Nancy brought up a huge box to my house.  What was in the box??  SEVEN APBA BASEBALL SETS!!  1996-2002, and all were as close to mint condition as you could get!  He didn’t want them anymore as he knew they’d just collect dust, and figured I’d be able to put them to use.  Someday, I certainly will as that timeframe was very exciting in baseball for me!  I felt I had to pay him back with something – he didn’t want money – so I stopped by the local Ramsey liquor store and bought him booze – a ton of Red Dog and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (his favorites).  I filled up the trunk of the Crown Vic, left the liquor store, and we finally made it to Doug and Nancy’s.  They are generous hosts and always welcome us like royalty.  We had a few drinks, talked baseball, life, and after midnight, Ben and I managed to get some shuteye.  The next morning we awoke to some blustery conditions! Snow and ice caked my car and it was crazy-windy.  We said our goodbyes to Doug and we were out the door at 7 AM.  We made the 20 minute drive down to Darrell’s in the Crown Vic Police Interceptor with a quick breakfast stop at McJobs (can’t beat a good ol’ hearty meal of preservatives once in awhile!). Travel was a bit dicey with blowing snow in some cases – it was nuts!

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Official Lofgren APBA Baseball Tournament Escort Vehicle

We arrived at Darrell’s house right at 8 AM and boy, you could tell that this was BIG TIME.  All 30 players showed up (a tournament record) and it was like a class reunion!  Most players are somewhat local (MN), but several players from Wisconsin made the drive down.  Jeff Boeding and George Adams made their way up from Missouri, Ron Emch came in from Ohio, and Tom Shores (Chris’ dad) represented Massachusetts!  Incredible!  It’s rewarding to be in company of my kind when it comes to baseball and APBA.  Guys were laughing, joking around, telling stories, predicting their fates, and just anxious to get rolling!  Jim gave a quick rundown on the rules and procedures while Darrell, the happy-go-lucky host of this event, filled in the blanks and before we knew it, it was tourney time!

Before I go into how my team did, I really stressed for a great deal of time as to WHICH team to take.  In my first APBA tournament, I took the 1989 A’s because I was right at the end of their season replay – it was a no brainer.  The Bash Brothers, Eck, Rickey — what a fun team to play with!  Last fall, I started a replay with the 1984 Twins – a replay I’m really enjoying but in no way could they compete in one of these tournaments.  I then did a little pool play/tournament with four random teams – 1931 A’s, 1990 A’s, 1981 Expos, and 2000 A’s.  I’ve always been a huge A’s and Twins can, and I became an Expos fan later in college before their ill-fated demise.  The 1931 A’s came out on top, but I just had a hard time taking a team I wasn’t connected with or “grew up” watching.  Long story short, I said, “Heck with it,” and selected the 2001 A’s.  I’d looked through their cards when I bought the 2001 set a few years back and knew they’d be able to compete.  From the A’s run from 2000-2003, I truly believe the 2001 was not only the best, but was snakebitten the worst of those teams. I skipped several hours of classes at Bemidji State University in 2000-2002 to watch A’s games, and I certainly don’t regret it.  Those A’s teams, along with the success of the 2001 Twins, rekindled my interest for baseball.  My goal was to make amends for Derek Jeter’s miraculous flip play that turned the tide and give the 2001 A’s another shot at glory!

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Derek Jeter’s flip in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS spelled the beginning of the end for Oakland….AGAIN!

When the divisions were released two weeks before the tournament, I felt I had realistic shot at making the playoffs. The 2001 A’s featured a pretty potent lineup, decent starting pitching, and a pair of AZ relievers in the bullpen.  Jason Giambi had a monster season in 2001, his last in Oakland, and I was excited and expecting him to carry the load!  Eric Chavez, Ron Gant, Jeremy Giambi, and Greg Myers also had big cards. I was concerned about the team’s defense (fielding 2), particularly with Miguel Tejada’s 8 SS rating and Frank Menechino at 2B (7).  Win or lose, I just wanted my games to be close and to get to know fellow APBA players.  It all depends on the dice!

My first round of games was against none other than Jim Fraasch and his 1930 Senators!  Before the tournament, I knew very little of the Senators history other than they won the 1924 World Series, lost in 1925, Walter Johnson, and that they moved to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.  It was a pleasure to roll a pair of games with Jim!  At TCABT-IV, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to have a quality visit with Jim.  This time around, we made up for lost time. As we played, he was always ever so optimistic in his Senators with every roll — something I had trouble with playing with my A’s!! Out of all the first round of games, we took the longest to complete, simply because we had so many great conversations in between rolls.  I consider Jim a true APBA-Dignitary of sorts.  This tournament had become one of the best in the country because of Jim’s dedication, communication, and opened-arms approach to making this a tournament for any and all who love APBA.

2001 A’s 3, 1930 Senators 2

Our first game was tight throughout! Not knowing really anything about the 1930 Senators coming in, I found out that this team really had potential to string together hits.  Mark Mulder (BYZ) and General Crowder (BZ). Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Jeremy Giambi connected for a two-out, two-run homerun. The Senators put the pressure on Jason Isringhausen (AXZ) in the 9th.  With one run in, the Senators had runners on first and second with one out.  A groundout by Ossie Bluege to the pitcher moved the runners up with two outs. Jim went deep to his bench and had Joe Kuhel pinch hit for Buddy Myer in the #9 slot.  Kuhel hit one deep to right, but Jermaine Dye settled under the ball for the out, giving the A’s a close 3-2 win.

1930 Senators 11, 2001 A’s 9

In another close ballgame, the Senators would jump out to a 6-2 lead against Cory Lidle (BYZ).  Back-to-back two-out errors by Tejada and Lidle allowed four unearned runs to cross, partially in thanks to Heinie Manush’s three-run double.  Bump Hailey (BY) cruised  along for the Senators until the 5th.  Greg Myers hit the first of his three (yes THREE) solo homeruns and a two-out error by the Senators’ Buddy Myer at second led to four more runs.  Eric Chavez’s three-run double helped put Oakland back on top 7-6.  Heading into the bottom of the 9th, Oakland led 9-8 as Myers’ homers gave them the slim lead.  With one out, Isringhausen gave up a triple, walk, and then the fatal walk-off homer to Dave Harris.  It was a tough blow, but that’s baseball….and that’s APBA Baseball!

Next up was a two-game series against Curt Bartel and his 1922 St. Louis Browns.  I had some great talks with Curt! He came to the Twin Cities with his son Andy, who won the spring tournament in 2015 with the 1902 Pirates.  Curt could be defined as polite, passive, and positive.  I ALMOST picked the 1922 Browns initially.  It’s quite a unique team.

1922 Browns 10, 2001 A’s 1

It was all St. Louis in the opener.  Ken Williams went deep and had 3 RBIs, Raymond Kolp (CZ) breezed through the Oakland lineup, and the Browns took advantage of Barry Zito’s (BX) 7 walks in four innings.  The Browns even left 12 runners on base, so it could’ve been much worse!

2001 A’s 10, 1922 Browns

Oakland turned the table on St. Louis in the nitecap by winning 10-1 themselves.  Jason Giambi’s three-run homer in the first got the A’s on the board.  Up 4-1 in the 5th, the A’s plated two runs on a Jeremy Giambi single and four more runs in the 6th.  Greg Myers continued to tear up the APBA Tournament, launching a two-run homer.  Tim Hudson (BX) tossed five innings and allowed one run to earn the win.  Oakland left 12 runners on base and used 8 walks allowed by Dave Danforth (CY) as the A’s stood 2-2 after four games.

Next up were the 1998 New York Yankees, led by the energetic Scott Ellingworth!  Scott’s a fun guy! I was able to rub shoulders with him at the fall tournament.  He grew up in New York Mills, MN, a small town about an hour east of Hawley.  We traded stories about growing up in west-central Minnesota and some laughs as well. Scott was playing against the clock as he was called in to work later in the afternoon.

1998 Yankees 3, 2001 A’s 2

Game one in the series was a white-knuckler.  David Cone (BXYZ) and Mark Mulder (BYZ) locked horns in a pitcher’s duel.  Darryl Strawberry’s solo homer in the 2nd put NYY up 1-2.  In the third, Derek Jeter’s two out triple plated Jorge Posada, and Paul O’Neill’s single scored Jeter to put the Yankees ahead 3-0.  Cone had a no hitter through four innings, but a solo homer by Miguel Tejada cut it to 3-1.  Neither team threatened at all as the game went to the 9th inning with Mariano Rivera (ACZ) took the hill for his second inning of relief.  With two outs, Eric Chavez’s solo home run to center made things interesting, but Tejada flew out to the track in right to end the game.  Cone and Rivera combined for 12 strikeouts while Mulder, Isringhausen, and Mike Magnante (AZ) had 13.  This was a tough loss to swallow.

1998 Yankees 14, 2001 A’s 7

New York obliterated Oakland pitching early and never relented.  Darryl Strawberry and Scott Brosius each hit two homers while Chuck Knoblauch had one to lead the offense against Cory Lidle.  Jason Giambi connected for two homers while, you guessed it, Greg Myers added a two-run shot.  Both men hit homeruns against Rivera, a mild consolation prize in the beatdown NY handed the A’s.

With my A’s stumbling to 2-4, there was still a chance to make amends but time was running out.  My next opponent was Jeff Boeding and his 1977 Philadelphia Phillies.  I had the wonderful opportunity to roll with Jeff last fall, and he’s an incredible man.  I have a lot of respect for Jeff as he’s followed by replays, blog and even my life with great fanfare and support.  He edged me twice last time with the 1905 NY Giants.  He would take me to the cleaners again with his Phillies.

1977 Phillies 9, 2001 A’s 5

Oakland used a two-run Jermaine Dye homer and a Terrance Long sac fly to go up 3-0 after two innings.  Holding a 4-2 lead in the top of the 6th, the Phillies got to the A’s bullpen, and specifically, Mike Magnante.  Ted Sizemore belted a two-out two-run homerun to tie things up. Ron Gant doubled and scored on Frank Menechino’s single as Oakland reclaimed the lead.  Philadelphia took the A’s to the cleaners in the 7th.  A pair of two-run homers by Mike Schmidt and Jay Johnstone and a solo homer by Gary Maddox put the game away.

1977 Phillies 6, 2001 Oakland A’s 5

I was licking my chops having the opportunity to go up against a D pitcher in Jim Kaat. I thought that maybe my luck would turn for the better.  It did in the first inning as a walk, three singles and a double led to four runs for Oakland.  Philadelphia scored three runs in the third, including a two-run two-out triple by Mike Schmidt to inch their way back.  The Phillies took the lead in the 5th on a two-run shot to left by Greg Luzinski.  Trailing 5-4 i the top of the 9th, Oakland led off the inning with a walk to Long and a single by Jason Giambi.  An Eric Chavez groundout moved the runners up.  Tejada laced a single to left as Long scored with ease, but Giambi was gunned down at the plate.  With Tejada on second and two outs, Jermaine Dye grounded out.  It was in the Phillies’ hands to win it in the 9th.  With Bake McBride on second base with two outs, Schmidt delivered off Isringhausen with a single to center, scoring McBride to make the Phillies walk-off winners.  In defeat, rolling with Jeff was one of the highlights!

With my chances of making the bracket play all but gone, I wanted to soak up the final two games as best as I could, because nothing beats face-to-face APBA Baseball.  My last opponent was Joe Pavlicek and the 1976 Oakland A’s.  This would be interesting to play another A’s team.  I knew I’d be facing two “A” pitchers so this would be a tough task.  I had fun playing with Joe. We were both WAY out of the running at this point.  Joe was very down-to-earth, laid back, and comical all at the same time. He was the perfect person to roll against to wrap up the tournament.

1976 A’s 5, 2001 A’s 0

Vida Blue (AYZ) handcuffed the 2001 Oakland team by throwing a three-hit shutout.  The 2001 A’s had a chance to score in the top of the first when Jeremy Giambi doubled and was at third with one out, but he was thrown out at home by Bert Campaneris on a fielder’s choice.  The 1976 A’s used an error to score three unearned runs, a bases-loaded three-run double by Billy North put the ’76 team up 3-0.  The 2001 A’s were able to put a runner in scoring position three times later in the game, but Blue dug deep to squelch any possible comeback.  He was TOUGH!!

2001 A’s 5, 1976 A’s 4

The Art Howe-led Athletics book their five game losing skid by earning a one-run victory to cap off the tournament.  In the bottom of the 1st, the 2001 A’s tagged Mike Torrez (AZ) for five runs.  A two-run single by Eric Chavez, an RBI single by Dye, and a two-run home run by Ron Gant gave Oakland a healthy 5-0 lead.  Torrez was able to settle in and managed to throw seven full innings, not allowing another run.  The 1976 team chipped away, getting a big shot in the arm on a two-run home run by Gene Tenace in the 4th.  Magnante and Isringhausen were able to hold on to make Cory Lidle a winner as the 2001 A’s finished their tournament run with a 3-7 mark.

CONCLUSION

This was another well-worthy event – an outstanding way to spend a weekend! I’m thankful to have a wife that supports my APBA-antics as this provides for the perfect weekend getaway with my brother. Looking at how my team did, the A’s averaged 4.7 runs a game – not too shabby – but they also allowed a tournament-high 65 runs.  That tells me that the dice were just against me, especially considering my two “A” relievers had high ERAs, giving up 10 of my 14 homeruns.  My shoddy defense and lack of Z rating didn’t help me, either.

Everything that Jim and Darrell provided was top-shelf for sure.  From the constant communication before the tournament, the custom-made team envelopes, the stories, the camaraderie, it’s all worth it no matter how your team does.  The week before the tournament, all players submitted their roster information (lineups, pitcher grades, etc).  This was really helpful and timesaving as we were all able to get all of that info upfront.  I scored all of my games on my iPad using iScore, and it was a cinch!

I was able to meet many new APBA players and became better acquainted with ones I already knew.  If you enjoy playing APBA, it should be on your bucket list to attend one of the many APBA Tournaments that have popped up in recent years!  They’re only going to become more popular, so don’t wait!  My brother’s 1985 Toronto Blue Jays fared better than my A’s, but he also missed out on the playoffs.  Ben and I stayed and watched the bracket portion of the tournament.  All of the teams left could all put up runs!  I felt some solace in the fact that both Jim’s Senators and Curt’s Browns both made it to the semifinals, teams that my A’s beat.  It only seemed fitting to see Darrell and Kevin Cluff duke it out for the title.  It’s crazy, though, how TIRED I was that night just by simply playing a game.  We were bushed! So what did my brother and I do?  When we arrived at our destination (my brother-in-law’s house in Minneapolis), we played more APBA before calling it a night.  A VERY SPECIAL thank you to APBA BallPark Master George Adams for “lending” a Fenway Park replica as he hadn’t yet completed my Polo Grounds park yet.  It’s been getting a lot of use, so thank you George!  This is totally changed my APBA time for the better!

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The ballpark (upper right) built by George Adams. You can clearly see it’s the beacon of my APBA master game setup. Thanks, George!

The next tournament will be held October 1st at Darrell’s house in Maple Grove.  For now, I’ve selected the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers.  I bought the master game team set (along with the 1951 Giants) on eBay.  When my Polo Grounds park is in my possession, I want to play a best of seven between these two teams.  Brooklyn’s lineup is killer, almost perfect fielding, and decent enough pitching.  I have about three other teams I’m contemplating so we shall see.  I rolled a best of seven against my brother and the ’95 Indians and lost in 7.  I still have almost two months to make up my mind.  Below is the tournament field as of July 20th.  It’s an impressive list of participants!

1. 1946 Red Sox – Chris Shores (Minneapolis, MN)
2. 1930 A’s – Garth Anderson (Ramsey, MN)
3. 1911 Giants – Gary Borthwick (Crystal, MN)
4. 1948 Indians – Dave Norlander (Bloomington, MN)
5. 1984 Tigers – Rob Skogen (Forest Lake, MN)
6. 1939 Yankees – Paul Van Beek (Winona, MN)
7. 1995 Indians – Ben Lofgren (Hawley, MN)
8. 1951 Dodgers – Beau Lofgren (Hawley, MN)
9. 2014 Orioles – Darrell Skogen (Maple Grove, MN)
10. 1957 Braves – Jim Sce (Burbank, CA)
11. 2001 Mariners – Phil Geraffo (Minnetonka, MN)
12. 1953 Dodgers – Fred Johnson (Cottage Grove, MN)
13. 2010 Twins – Kevin Cluff (Apple Valley, MN)
14. 2015 Dodgers – Dan Walker (Woodbury, MN)
15. 1981 Expos- Craig Christian (Eau Claire, WI)
16. 1988 Twins – Eric Berg (Jacksonville, IL)
17. 1930 Senators – Jim Fraasch (Savage, MN)
18. 1906 Cubs – Chris Lyons (Apple Valley, MN)
19. 2008 Cubs – Pat Martin (Brooklyn Park, MN)
20. 1977 Phillies – Leroy Arnoldi (Prior Lake, MN)
21. 1968 Tigers – Bill Lilley (Akron, OH)
22. 1930 Cardinals – Bruce Tyler (Elk River, MN)
23. 1927 A’s – Jeff Boeding (Platte City, MO)
24. 1966 Astros – George Adams (Kansas City, MO)
25. 1998 Padres – Ron Emch (Toledo, OH)
26. 2004 Yankees – Cleon Pavlicek (Bloomington, MN)
27. 1985 Cardinals – Roy Langhans (Cockeysville, MD)
28. 1962 Giants – Danny Skillings (Edina, MN)
29. 1998 Braves – Steve Ryan (Harrison, TN)
30. 2015 Astros – John Kalous ( Shiloh, IL)

In my next post, I’ll update my 1984 Twins Master Game Replay as it nears the All-Star Break.  The Twins are struggling but still hold a slim lead in the AL West.  Below are the TWIN CITIES TOURNAMENT RESULTS from April (compiled by Jim Fraasch) and numbers from the 2001 Oakland A’s in the tournament.  What a tournament!  Who kn3w cards, dice, and a bunch of random guys could be so much fun!

TCABT-V          
Saturday, April 2nd, 2016  
JERRY KOOSMAN DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1954 INDIANS (PAT MARTIN)* 8 2 39 26 13
1985 BLUE JAYS (BEN LOFGREN) 5 5 46 32 14
1962 GIANTS (RON EMCH) 5 5 44 40 4
1969 TWINS (DAVE NORLANDER) 4 6 53 55 -2
1997 MARINERS (GREGG NELSON) 4 6 35 49 -14
1961 YANKEES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 4 6 26 41 -15
TOTALS 30 30 243 243 0
ROGER MARIS DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF)* 7 3 51 34 17
1988 METS (CRAIG CHRISTIAN) 6 4 37 45 -8
1920 INDIANS (GARY BORTHWICK) 5 5 51 37 14
1999 DIAMONDBACKS (ANDY BARTEL) 5 5 43 41 2
2015 ROYALS (ERIC BERG) 5 5 35 35 0
2015 CARDINALS (PHIL GERAFFO) 2 8 28 53 -25
TOTALS 30 30 245 245 0
JOE MAUER DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1922 BROWNS (CURT BARTEL)* 7 3 50 28 22
1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH)* 7 3 51 40 11
1977 PHILLIES (JEFF BOEDING) 6 4 58 54 4
1976 ATHLETICS (JOE PAVLICEK) 4 6 38 49 -11
1998 YANKEES (SCOTT ELLINGWORTH) 3 7 45 53 -8
2001 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN) 3 7 47 65 -18
TOTALS 30 30 289 289 0
PAUL MOLITOR DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
2015 METS (SCOTT EGGE)* 7 3 46 39 7
2004 CARDINALS (DARRELL SKOGEN)* 6 4 58 41 17
1975 REDS (TOM SHORES) 5 5 56 46 10
1987 TWINS (DAN WALKER) 5 5 62 63 -1
2007 YANKEES (CLEON PAVLICEK) 4 6 43 60 -17
1949 ATHLETICS (GEORGE ADAMS) 3 7 39 55 -16
TOTALS 30 30 304 304 0
DAVE WINFIELD DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1912 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES)* 8 2 46 31 15
1910 ATHLETICS (BRUCE TYLER)* 8 2 36 19 17
1972 PIRATES (ROGER PARSONS) 5 5 36 33 3
1968 CARDINALS (ROB SKOGEN) 4 6 34 32 2
2006 TWINS (CHRIS LYONS) 3 7 22 35 -13
1929 ATHLETICS (FRED JOHNSON) 2 8 18 42 -24
TOTALS 30 30 192 192 0

*  Qualified for Bracket Play

BRACKET PLAY RESULTS

Seed TCABT-V   QUARTER-FINALS G1 G2 G3 SERIES
1 1912 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES) 2 5 3 1
vs
8 2004 CARDINALS (DARRELL SKOGEN) 3 4 13 2
2 1954 INDIANS (PAT MARTIN) 5 2 0
vs
7 1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) 7 11 2
3 1922 BROWNS (CURT BARTEL) 4 5 2
vs  
6 1910 ATHLETICS (BRUCE TYLER) 3 3 0
4 2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF) 4 8 2
vs  
5 2015 METS (SCOTT EGGE) 0 3 0
Seed TCABT-V   SEMI-FINALS G1 G2 G3 SERIES
3 1922 BROWNS (CURT BARTEL) 7 13 4 1
vs
8 2004 CARDINALS (DARRELL SKOGEN) 11 4 6 2
 
4 2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF) 5 7 7 2
vs
7 1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) 7 5 1 1
Seed TCABT-V   CHAMPIONSHIP G1 G2 G3 SERIES
4 2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF) 6 3 7 2
vs
8 2004 CARDINALS (DARRELL SKOGEN) 5 5 5 1

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Here Goes Nuthin’

Greetings!

Happy Last Day of January! Thanks to all of you that read and responded to my latest blog post regarding a tournament team selection. I really appreciate the feedback!  I took a great deal of applicable information from the advice of my APBA brethren. TC Tourney organizer Jim Fraasch also sent me a helpful email that sort of steered me along to my decision….or at least a fun method that will nail down my decision. After reading your responses, I decided to whittle my options to teams that have I’m interested in and/or have sentimental attachments to compared to just picking one the mightiest teams of all times (which means I’ll likely NEVER select a Yankees team – DARN).

I’m down to five teams that I’m interested in rolling with down in the Twin Cities come April. The teams are (insert cheesy drumroll here):

2000 Oakland A’s – sentimental

1990 Oakland A’s – sentimental

1981 Montreal Expos – sentimental and of interest

1931 Philadelphia A’s – interest

1912 New York Giants – Since George Adams is making a Polo Grounds for me to roll in, it might not be a bad idea to throw a Giants team into the mix. Plus, I wanted to add a dead ball team in here to see how the other teams would do against one collectively.

What I’ve decided to do is have the five teams compete in a pool play. It will be very similar to the TC Tournament as each team will play each other twice with each team hosting a game apiece per series.  Each team will use a four man rotation and follow all the rules of the tourney. This pool play will have a fun twist, though. Because there are five teams, one team would theoretically have an “off” day, so to ensure no team suffered any kind of a mental lapse, the odd team out will play one game versus the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134). Special thanks goes to Kevin Burghardt for sharing these cards with me! I haven’t rolled any games with the Spiders yet so this will be something to look forward to (like there isn’t enough already!!). Below is the tentative schedule of the Pool Play:

Day One

1912 Giants vs. 1899 Spiders

1931 A’s vs. 2000 A’s,

1981 Expos vs. 1990 A’s

Day Two

1981 Expos vs. 1899 Spiders

2000 A’s vs. 1912 Giants

1990 A’s vs. 1931 A’s

Day Three

1990 A’s vs. 1899 Spiders

1981 Expos vs. 2000 A’s

1912 Giants vs. 1931 A’s

Day Four

1931 A’s vs. 1899 Spiders

1981 Expos vs. 1912 Giants

1990 A’s vs. 2000 A’s

Day Five

2000 A’s vs. 1899 Spiders

1931 A’s vs. 1981 Expos

1990 A’s vs. 1912 Giants
The games featuring the Spiders will count in the standings of the pool play.  Just as in the TC Tournament, the top two teams will play in a best of three to determine the champion, and the team I’ll take down “south” to Maple Grove (the Twin Cities suburb where this great event will take place).  I’m really looking forward to this! It’s the perfect way to step away from my Master Game project (84 Twins Replay) and continue to become acclimated with the basic game.  It’s fun to crank out games quickly. Once this tourney is over, though, I’ll continue on with my quest in trying to lead those Twins to the AL West crown.  Two questions for you as I wrap this up:

1. Which team will rise above the others and win this thing? (I really have no clue)

2. Will the Spiders win a game? (My gut says no, but….you never know!)

I’ll update the results after each “day.” Thanks for reading! Have a good one!

The_Riddler_7

Team Selection for Tournaments: It’s Puzzling

Greetings!

I hope all of your “APBA-nings” have been enjoyable and a positive diversion from your day-to-day tasks.  Thanks for reading this blog!  Feel free to read earlier entries to get more of my APBA stories, but basically, I firmly believe APBA Baseball is truly the most wonderful board game ever invented.  I’m a cards/dice guy, and I’ve been playing the game since 2010.

I’ve shelved my 1984 Minnesota Twins Replay using the Master Game for awhile to play some basic games with some different teams.  Why?  Tis’ the season for APBA Baseball Tournaments, and I’ll be participating in 5th Twins Cities Area Tournament on April 2.  There’s already a pretty impressive field that’s been put together (see below).  This will be my second go around in this tournament, and I’m extremely excited for this!  The games alone will be the bread and butter of the tournament with a minimum of nine face-to-face games.  The pinnacle of the day, however, will likely be when I receive an extraordinary ballpark from the Ballpark Godfather himself, Mr. George Adams.  I had the pleasure of meeting George last fall, and split a pair of games against him.  I treasured the conversations we had — a very passionate baseball enthusiast.  Polo%20Grounds%20001After much debating, I put in an order to George to make me scaled-down version of the Polo Grounds to roll in.  I’m beyond anxious to see this in person!!  His work is unheralded!

Now, the team selection process for any tournament is a tricky proposition.  Does one strictly look at team records, the makeup of a team and their APBA cards, and pick the best team you can possibly find?  Or do you choose a team with your heart and pick your sentimental favorite??  Or…is it possible to kill two birds with one stone?  It is stressful because you want your team to perform, but then again, emphasis on having fun should trump success – the dice will ultimately decide.  I would really like to get some input on how others out there select tournament teams.

For the fall TC Tournament, I used the 1989 Oakland A’s.  I’m a huge A’s fan, and I’d also recently completed a A’s Master Game replay with that same team.  Oakland beat San Francisco in the World Series, so I figured it was the perfect segway to use them in the tournament.  The 89 A’s squeaked into the final 8 teams, going 5-4 before falling in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, losing a pair of tight games to the 2011 Texas Rangers and APBA Hall-Of-Famer Kevin Cluff.  This year, I’ve tossed a few teams around, but I’m likely going to stick with an A’s or an Expos team.

As of right now, I’ve officially selected the 2000 Oakland A’s.  This selection is based much more on sentimental value versus competitive value.  The ’00 A’s really were the team that got me back into baseball.  From 1993-1998, both the Twins and A’s were almost unwatchable — Kirby Puckett and Mark McGwire kept my interest level high until they reitred/traded.  In 1999, Oakland became respectable with a winning record, but it was in 2000 that the A’s surged to win the AL West during the final weekend of the year, and I skipped my four hour sophomore psychology class at Bemidji State University three weeks in a row to watch Oakland down the stretch/playoffs before their bitter defeat to the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS.  Little did I know, the pain and anguish of being an A’s fan post-1900’s was only just beginning.  However, of all the A’s post-season teams from then until 2014, the 2000 club is by far my favorite!  Sure…the team had a plethora of stars – Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, 1999 ROY Ben Grieve, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson….but players like Matt Stairs, Doug Jones, Randy Velarde, Sal Fasano, Jeff Tam, Jim Mecir, and Olmedo Saenz were guys I loved to watch.

APBA-wise, the 2000 A’s certainly have some potential.  I can put together a pretty formidable lineup, but after a litmus test of 20+ games, they’re very much feast or famine.  Below is the lineup I’ve been using in my scrimmages:

Piatt – CF

Chavez – 3B

Giambi – 1B

Tejada – SS

Saenz – DH

Long – LF

Stairs – RF

Hernandez – C

Velarde – 2B

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The four man rotation for the 2000 A’s consists of:

Tim Hudson – BX

Barry Zito – BX

Gil Heredia – CZ

Kevin Appier – CY

My top three hurlers in the bullpen are:

Jeff Tam (AZ)

Jim Mecir (AY)

Doug Jones (BYZ).

After deciding on this club, I rolled a slew of games against some pretty stuff competition as I took on several World Series/Pennant-winning squads, either from my GTOP collection or from season sets I have.  I used the basic boards circa 1995 and played the game “as-is” straight out of the box.  I alternated home and away for all 21 games.  I used the four man rotation above and correlated the opponent’s starting pitcher based on mine (1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2) Here are the results:

A’s 5, 1969 Orioles 3

A’s 5, 2000 Yankees 4 (walk-off win in 9th)

1934 Cardinals 5, A’3

A’s 4, 1969 Mets 2

A’s 4, 1990 A’s 2 (walk-off HR in 10th)

2008 Rays 4, A’s 1

1919 Red 4, A’s 2

1931 A’s 7, A’s 2

1946 Red Sox 7, A’s 2

2003 Marlins 3, A’s 2

A’s 4, 1954 Giants 1

1922 Browns 12, A’s 5

A’s 8, 1906 Cubs 3

A’s 1, 2010 Giants 0

1984 Tigers 10, A’s 6

1953 Dodgers 9, A’s 6

1981 Expos 4, A’s 2

A’s 6, 1944 Browns 0

1912 Giants 7, A’s 2

A’s 2, 1995 Braves 1 (walk-off win in 11th)

AND THEN—a game known as “The BLOODBATH”

1953 Yankees 25, A’s 2

In conclusion, the 2000 Oakland squad went 9-12 in those 21 games, averaging 3.5 runs per game.  They allowed 5.3 runs per game.  If you take away “The BLOODBATH,” they allowed 4.35 runs per game.  I was not entirely shocked at my record as I was hoping to be right around .500, but I was a bit surprised in the lack of run production.  The Oakland squad hit 31 homeruns, but 24 of them were solo shots.  Lacking hitters with 7’s, 10’s, and 11’s made it hard to sustain rallies against A and B pitchers.  The lack of “Z” pitchers really hurt this team as well.  There were several times where a two-out walk would score on a double or homerun.  A few times, their FIELDING TWO team fielding rating came into play, but that was the same for their opponents regarding their fielding rating.  I had a blast rolling all of these games, and it was great to roll against some classic teams that have pretty potent lineups. Other than “The BLOODBATH” debacle, these A’s were in the thick of it more often than not!

Now for my decision — Will I use the 2000 A’s in Darrell Skogen’s living room for the TC Tournament?  I’m undecided!  I have until March 19 to make my final selection.  I toyed with taking the 1922 St. Louis Browns, but that team was swooped up by Curt Bartel.  I’m going to play around with the 1981 Expos next.  It seems no one takes an Expos team to these tournaments, so they’re bound to get some love.  Their rotation has Bill Gullickson, Ray Burris, Steve Rogers, and Scott Sanderson – all BYZ’s.  Jeff Reardon and Woodie Fryman are both AXZ’s and Bill “Spaceman” Lee is a B in the bullpen.  That’s a very consistent pitching staff.  Their lineup is somewhat lackluster in the power department, but Tim Raines’ card is a beast for a leadoff hitter.  The Expos can boast a Team One fielding when the starting pitchers are on the hill, but slip to Fielding Two when a call to the bullpen is made.  Both the 2000 A’s and the 1981 Expos offer a chance to shed some limelight on two forgotten, but successful teams.  We shall see!  April 2nd can’t come fast enough.  Below is a list of the 5th TC Tournament Field:

1920 INDIANS – GARY BORTHWICK (CRYSTAL, MN)
2011 RANGERS – KEVIN CLUFF (APPLE VALLEY, MN)
1988 METS – CRAIG CHRISTIAN (EAU CLAIRE, WI)
1961 YANKEES – LEROY ARNOLDI (PRIOR LAKE, MN)
1969 ORIOLES – PAUL VAN BEEK (WINONA, MN)
1929 ATHLETICS – FRED JOHNSON (COTTAGE GROVE, MN)
2015 ROYALS – ERIC BERG (JACKSONVILLE, IL)
1972 PIRATES – ROGER PARSONS (TWO HARBORS, MN)
1912 RED SOX – CHRIS SHORES (MINNEAPOLIS, MN)
1985 BLUE JAYS – BEN LOFGREN (HAWLEY, MN)
1910 ATHLETICS – BRUCE TYLER (ELK RIVER, MN)
1997 MARINERS – GREGG NELSON (MAPLE GROVE, MN)
2015 CARDINALS – PHIL GERAFFO (MINNETONKA, MN)
2015 METS – SCOTT EGGE (WOODBURY, MN)
2004 CARDINALS – DARRELL SKOGEN (MAPLE GROVE, MN)
1930 SENATORS – JIM FRAASCH (SAVAGE, MN)
1954 INDIANS – PAT MARTIN (BROOKLYN PARK, MN)
1968 CARDINALS – ROB SKOGEN (FOREST LAKE, MN)
1998 YANKEES – SCOTT ELLINGWORTH (BROOKLYN PARK, MN)
1977 PHILLIES – JEFF BOEDING (PLATTE CITY, MO)
1976 ATHLETICS – JOE PAVLICEK (BLOOMINGTON, MN)
2007 YANKEES – CLEON PAVLICEK (BLOOMINGTON, MN)
2000 ATHLETICS – BEAU LOFGREN (HAWLEY, MN)
1922 BROWNS – CURT BARTEL (OCONOMOWOC, WI)
1975 REDS – TOM SHORES (GEORGETOWN, MA)

 

 

 

 

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Butcher’s Heroics Pace Twins

Hey Everyone!

Happy 2016!  I really didn’t know what to do with myself tonight.  My wife left last night for an 11-day cruise in the Caribbean with her siblings, my two oldest sons (ages 6 & 3) are staying at grandma and grandpa’s, and my youngest (1) just fell asleep.  As I watch this anemic Steelers-Bengals playoff game wondering if Cincinnati will win their first playoff game since I was in third grade, I realized it’s time to update you on my APBA-nings.

I’ve played APBA on and off for five-plus years after finding out about the game from my uncle-in-law (see my first posts regarding that story), and when I play solo, I’m exclusively a master gamer.  I’ve replayed the 1987-88-89 Oakland A’s seasons, and I’m currently replaying the 1984 Twins.  I have, however, been ramping up my basic games with my newfound APBA brother, who also happens to be my actual brother.  After years of subtle pressuring, my older brother Ben finally succumbed to the addiction known as APBA Baseball.  We’ve held three “Brother World Series” since a few days following Christmas, and we’re in the middle of our fourth.  We play the basic version with the newest boards, and we use a tremendous ballpark build by Mr. George Adams.  With the Twins Cities APBA Tournament coming up in less than three months, we are ramping up for it as I am completely undecided as to who I’ll bring.  I hate to admit, but I’ve wound up on top all three series which all have gone six games (1932 A’s over 1995 Indians, 1922 Browns over 1985 Blue Jays, 2002 A’s over 2002 Twins).  I guess I’m trying to get even for all the times he tormented me in my youth when he’d keep games of baseball, HORSE, Madden, or whatever game we’d play close until the end when he’d snatch the taste of victory. Today, we started another best-of-7 between Ben’s 85 Blue Jays while I took the less-than-heralded 1991 Tigers.  We played while watching our NDSU Bison win their 5th straight FCS Championship today.  We only squeezed in three games, but those forgotten Tigers won the first three games!! I think Ben’s cursed!  Ben and I are both elementary teachers in our hometown and work in the same building.  It’s a luxury for countless reasons, but it’s hard at the same time to get “caught up.” The nature of teaching and coaching is very demanding, and it always seems we’re required to do more with less resources and time.  Fortunately, APBA has given us a common interest that allows us both to have structured “release” time, whether that’s together or off on our own time. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we live 10 blocks from each other in a town with a shade over 2,000 people.  It’s been a blast playing with Ben, and I will enjoy many future series together!

I wanted to inform you on how the 1984 Twins Master Game Replay is progressing.  The replay has made it into the first week of June, and Minnesota currently holds a 32-21 record, three games up on the second-place California Angels, and a whopping seven games better than they were in real life at this juncture.  After a blazing 16-8 start, the Twins have tailed off a bit and have been 16-13 since, including 9-11 in their last 20 games.  In a rather pedestrian AL West that season, if Minnesota is able to play .500 baseball the rest of the way, they’ll claim a playoff berth.  However, I’m not going to assume anything, especially with this patchwork bullpen, Ron Davis as the closer, and back end of the rotation the Twins possess.

Two players have carried this squad repeatedly throughout the course of the first 53 games the Twins have played.  Kent Hrbek, who finished 2nd in MVP Voting in ’84, is doing his part to steal a few more ballots based on his play.  Hrbek currently has 16 HR with 45 RBI with .390/.434/.725 respectively.  He’s also batting .435 with RISP (20-46). With a 5 fielding rating at first, he’s helped shore up my otherwise suspect defense. He’s clearly been “the man” amongst men. Hrbek’s success was and will continued to be expected, but the mammoth success of one of Hrbek’s teammates has raised some eyebrows.  Starting pitcher John Butcher, who certainly had vanilla MLB career, undoubtedly has thrown the best 11-game stretch of his life!  Butcher is currently 7-1 with an ERA of 1.11, WHIP of 0.918, and opponents are batting .165 against him.  Butcher also enjoyed a steak of 39 consecutive scoreless innings pitched! Yep…I can’t make this stuff up!  He’s tossed five shutouts already, and has been the anchor of the Twins’ staff.  Butcher (BYZ, MG 11) has obviously benefitted from timely dice rolls at the right time, and I’m certain the pendulum will swing the other way, but I won’t complain if this magic carpet ride continues.

This replay has been 100% unpredictable and enjoyable!  Being a Minnesotan, I’ve learned more about the Twins conducting this replay than I think anything else I’ve done in the last 5-10 years for sure.   Once this feisty Bengals-Steelers game concludes, I’ll mosey on down to the basement and roll my next game as the Twins will host the Rangers in the Metrodome.  When this replay will wrap-up is irrelevant – all I know is when life slows down enough the game will be waiting to take me off to a place no other game can.

Below are some statistics and scores of recent games. Thanks for reading!

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Hrbek, Butcher Making Metrodome Relevant

Greetings!

The rebirth of the 1984 Minnesota Twins via the APBA Baseball Game (Master Addition) is in full force.  The reincarnation of this somewhat forgotten Twins squad just completed its April games, and what has transpired has surprised many.  The season didn’t start out so swell with a near-capacity crowd on hand for Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers.

Not much went right for Williams and the Twins on Opening Day.

Not much went right for Williams and the Twins on Opening Day.

The Tigers took it to the Twinkies 12-1, bashing three homeruns off beleaguered starter “Big” Al Williams.  Minnesota dropped four of its first five games, all at the Metrodome, to start the year out 1-4.

The Minnesota brass made an early decision that helped change the course of the rest of the month.  Heralded prospect Kirby Puckett was brought up from AAA to take the place of struggling  Jim Eisenreich in center field to help bolster the offense.  In Puckett’s debut, he almost witnessed a no-hitter in the Bronx.

"Sweet Music" went from almost joining the No-Hit Club to the Choking in the Bronx Club, but he held on to defeat the Yankees.

“Sweet Music” went from almost joining the No-Hit Club to the Choking in the Bronx Club, but he held on to defeat the Yankees.

Frank Viola (BYZ, MG 14) won a 1-0 duel against Phil Niekro.  Viola’s no-hit bid ended with a two out single to Lou Piniella in the bottom of the 9th, beaning Don Baylor, and then inducing Dave Winfield with an infield popup to end the contest.  That victory seemingly springboarded this Twins team to cloud nine the rest of the month, going 15-4 the rest of the way.

With a 9-7 record, the Twins headed to Tiger Stadium in Detroit for an important two-game series. After day one was rained out, the two teams locked horns in a doubleheader down on “The Corner.”  In the DH opener, the Twins blasted the Tigers 7-1, outhitting Detroit 15-5 as Jack Morris was driven out in the 4th inning.  “Big” Al hurled six effective innings to earn the win.  Minnesota took the nightcap 4-2 in a see-saw game.  Gary Gaetti’s bloop single in the 8th drove home the go ahead run, and Ron Davis (CX, MG 6) pitched two scoreless innings to save it.  Those two wins pushed Minnesota home with added confidence and renewed fan interest in the squad.  The hometown club didn’t disappoint in a short two-game series versus the Yankees.  Mike Smithson (CYZ, MG 10) dealt the Yankees a four hit shutout and the Twins used four two-out RBI singles to nip New York 4-0.  The following night, John Butcher (BYZ, MG 11) tossed a two-hit shutout over the mighty Bombers, leaving the Yankees hitless over the final six innings. Darrell Brown and newly-crowned shortstop Houston Jimenez (who took over for Lenny Faedo mid-April) came through with two out singles to provide the Twins enough offense in their 2-0 win.  The shutout was Butcher’s THIRD of the month.  You read right….THIRD!!

Butcher's mound magic has the Twins bursting with optimism.

Butcher’s mound magic has the 84 Twins bursting with optimism.

The sparse crowds were very enthusiastic and energetic which provided a nice change for the 25 guys in the third base dugout – the ‘Dome is beginning to become a relevant place!  The Twins took that energy to the Oakland Coliseum to win three of four against the A’s.  Minnesota owned a seven-game winning steak until the final game of the series that saw Ron Davis allow a game-tying homerun to Dave Kingman in the 8th, and a two-out bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th to officially lose it for the Twins.  Nonetheless, the Twins own a 16-8 record and sit atop the AL West with a three game lead over those same A’s.  The Twins will open May with a three game series up at the Kingdome against the Mariners before heading back to the confines of the Teflon roof.

Team pitching has been the biggest surprise thus far for Minnesota.  The staff boasts a TEAM E.R.A. of 2.99 thru 24 games. Yes….that’s including Ron Davis (3.68, 6 saves in 8 opportunities).  The team has used a four man rotation with a spot-start by Larry Pashnick (DZ, MG 4) who only threw seven shutout innings in Oakland!  The dice will turn the other way eventually, but right now, the Twins will take their good fortunes until the dice roll dry.  Five shutouts and six total complete games round out the accolades.  The bullpen is patchwork at best, but a recent callup of lefty Len Whitehouse (CZ, MG 7) will help a little.  Below are some of the numbers of the Twins starting hurlers:

Viola: 4-2. 2.85 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 1.244 WHIP

Butcher: 3-1, 1.56 ERA, 3 CG, 3 SHO, 0.942 WHIP

Smithson: 3-1, 2.95 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 1.286 WHIP

Williams: 3-2, 6.00 ERA, 1.833 WHIP

The offense has been ignited by one main Minnesotan – Kent Hrbek.  “Herbie” came out of the gates blazing, and although he’s cooled off a bit over the last six games, his numbers are certainly MVP-worthy (see below).

The sweet-swing of Hrbek has the Twins' eyes set on a successful '84 campaign.

The sweet-swing of Hrbek has the Twins’ eyes set on a successful ’84 campaign.

The Bloomington, MN native hit six homeruns in his first ten games to provide the early punch the offense needed to be competitive.  The others have slowly followed suit. Mickey Hatcher and Puckett are great table setters for the meat of the order in Hrbek and Tom Brunansky.  Other than Puckett, no one is even a remote threat to steal, so the Twins must utilize the hit-and-run to move men along as the team has attempted to steal just six times (5 for 6).  Gary Gaetti will be mired in the bottom third of the lineup, but his defense is needed on the field (5 rating at 3rd) despite his offensive struggles (in real life, he hit just 5 HR in 1984 despite playing in all 162 games!!).  The team overall is hitting .288, which most teams would take any day of the week, and team on base is a moderate 0.326.  Minnesota is batting a hearty 0.316 with runners in scoring position.  Defense, however, continues to plague the team as it’s made 24 errors – an average of one per game.  With Jimenez now at short, his 8 rating is a huge improvement over Faedo’s miniscule 6.  Below are some offensive stats through April.

 

Hrbek: .394, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 8 2B, 19 Runs, 1.181 OPS

Puckett: .325, 25 total hits (2 XBH), 15 Runs, 6 RBI

Hatcher: .370, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 0.921 OPS

Brunansky: .293, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 0.737 OPS

Ron Washington: .455 (10 games)

Tim Teufel: .250, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .739 OPS

Gaetti: .202, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 0.456 OPS

Tim Laudner: .208, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0.594 OPS

Darrell Brown: .292

Dave Engle: .288

Randy Bush: .275

Also, I want to give a quick shout out to Jim Fraasch for organizing the 5th Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament to be held in April of 2016.  Check out his blog – JIm’s APBA Barn – pretty unique stuff there!  I’m already trying to think of what team to bring next….I’ve narrowed it to about…..hmmmm…..20 TEAMS!  Oh well….I still have time on my side!  Thanks for reading and following this blog.  If you have any 1984 baseball memories, Twins or otherwise, I’d love to hear from you.  Enjoy APBA however you see fit!  66’s!  Enjoy what’s left of this Thanksgiving weekend.  We all have a lot to be thankful for without a doubt.

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’84 Twins Ready for 2nd Chance

Hello All!

My name is Beau Lofgren, and I’m a baseball junkie!  For those that haven’t ever read my blog, I’m a big fan of baseball.  I’ve coached varsity and American Legion baseball for a number of years, been to 33 different ballparks, and will read just about anything baseball-related.  I know that I’m not alone in regards to my passion for the game.  I’ve also taken a liking to the APBA Baseball Game, which is sometimes a hobby, and other times an addiction.  Any way you look at it, it’s a phenomenal way to ease one’s mind and to press “pause” on what life throws at you.  I’m pretty much a master game player, learning it straight out of the box back in 2010 when I first started dabbling with the game.  That’s not really the suggested method of learning it as I hadn’t played a basic game until just this past summer.  I do enjoy the basic version, too, especially face-to-face (that’s how I hooked my brother on the game this summer!).  I simply prefer the advanced strategy and thinking that the master game offers.

I’m a Twins, A’s, and Expos diehard, and after doing season replays of the 1987, 88, and 89 A’s, I needed to go in a different direction.  A Twins replay had been on my mind ever since I started playing this game, but I had to pick the right season.  The obvious choices would’ve been 1965, 1987, or 1991 because of the known-success of those clubs.  I don’t like doing the “obvious.”  I thought about maybe one of the MANY Ron Gardenhire-led clubs of the 2000’s that made the playoffs or came close.  2001-2010 was an incredible time in Minnesota.  The Twins became relevant again in 2001, thanks to a bunch of young kids playing out of their mind, and unruly fans chucking hot dogs and batteries at Chuck Knoblauch of the Yankees in May of 2001.  Being a Twins fan from 1993-2000 was almost like being a laughingstock.  They. Were. AWFUL!  Nobody went to the games.  When Kirby Puckett went down in 1996 for good with glaucoma, that was the last straw for a lot of fans.  That ’96 team was a possibility for me to replay, but no, it didn’t seem right.

Finally, I recalled something I saw at the Metrodome on October 11, 2009.  It was Game 3 of the American League Division Series as the Twins took on the Yankees.  On the JumboTron before the game, they were showing a bunch of highlights and videos of Metrodome teams of the past.  As a kid, I sort of assumed all teams prior to 1987 were BAD.

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Long live the Metrodome!

 

I was 7 at the time the Twins won their first World Series, and I just remember people saying how bad they were before that.  Well, not exactly.  I watched a video highlighting the 1984 Twins at the ‘Dome, and how they finished just three games back of Kansas City that season.  A surge in mid-September made it a neck-in-neck race, only to bow out of the race by losing a slew of heartbreaking games at Cleveland in cavernous Municipal Stadium.  That particular game I was at, ironically, was heartbreaking as well as the mighty Yankees beat the Twins 4-1, ending the 2009 season, and pulling the curtain over the Metrodome Era for good in relation to Twins Baseball. I still really miss the ‘Dome, and its quirks, and that memory of seeing that little blip of the ’84 Twins made me curious.

I investigated that team late one night this fall, and I was amazed at something I saw.  This Twins team was in the “race” the entire season, never falling more that 4.5 games back of first.  They actually were in first place in the AL West for a very significant chunk of the season, including most of August and half of September!  Unreal!  Looking at the roster, some very recognizable names were there.  Tim Laudner, Gary Gaetti, Ron Davis, Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, Tim Teufel, Frank Viola, Mickey Hatcher, Ron Washington.  Then there were some names I’d only heard of briefly or seen on a random baseball card in my collection.  Pete Filson, Jeff Reed, Ken Schrom, Mike Smithson.  Then….the unknowns…..guys I really knew NOTHING about.  Albert Williams. Lenny Faedo. Larry Pashnick.  Houston Jimenez.  Pat Putnam.  After looking at the roster and the AL as a whole that year, it just kept dawning on me that this 1984 team is a team I need to replay, and to give it a kind of glory it’s never had.  I got to thinking, “I wonder how many people on God’s green Earth have replayed this Twins team using the APBA Baseball Master Game?”  The likelihood is very few to none, and with that said, that made my decision to replay this season!

Scouring this roster and the stats a little further, this team is very interesting.  They didn’t really come close to leading the league in any team statistical category.  They only stole 39 bases as a team (and going from having Rickey Henderson and Carney Lansford on that 89 A’s team, this was going to be a big change).  However, with Hrbek, Brunansky, Hatcher, Randy Bush, and Laudner, I had some guys that had potential to pack a little punch.  Also, a certain pudgy future Hall-of-Famer was about to crack the spotlight this season.  Kirby Puckett debuted in ’84, and I was excited to be able to play his rookie season.  The pitching staff was hit and miss.  The Twins have three pretty good starting pitchers in Frank Viola, Mike Smithson, and John Butcher (another Twin I’d never heard of).  The bullpen is a different story!  Ron Davis, the closer of most of the 80’s with the Twins, is a C with a master grade of just 6.

Ron Davis,Minnesota Twins,pitcher,1984

Ron Davis with a unique pose for the camera.

Just as he was in real life, I know it will be a roller coaster ride of emotions as to what to do in those late inning situations.  As a whole, other than the Tigers, a lot of other teams were remarkably balanced.  The dice will truly tell the story of this replay, as I’m expecting some variation as to what actually took place in ’84.

In my previous replays, I’ve pretty much played things status quo – playing the games with the same lineups, sitting players that were hurt, etc.  That helped me keep integrity of the game as I became fluent with it.  However, I’ve decided with this replay that I’m going to modify things a bit.  I typically will use the same defensive lineup, as that helps me give players there necessary “rest,” but I’m continuously tinkering with the lineup. I’ve decided that I’ll do this for the first 30-40 games or so.  I am, also, going to make two “significant” modifications of some kind.  I’ve already made the first, as I decided to bring Kirby up to the big show after the team’s first three games.

Kirby Puckett swings

Kirby earns the CF job earlier than expected.

He didn’t make his debut until May 8th that season in real life, but I decided he needed to be at the forefront of this team’s march to potential glory.  The other “significant” modification has yet to be determined.  I’d like to either bolster my bullpen or lineup somehow, but I’ll roll on and see where this Twins team is in June or July before I really get worked up about it.  I’ve only rolled through April 26th, so there’s plenty of time to think about this.

In conclusion, this replay through the first 20 games has brought me great joy. I’ve learned a lot about the American League and more about the Twins in the past month I’ve rolled. I’ll update you on the team’s performance in my next post. So far, so good!