Welcome to this HALLOWEEN edition of Minnesota Apba! Thanks for reading this APBA baseball blog! As the World Series continues to carry on, it got me fired up to post a blog today. In this edition, I’m going to recap the games I played in the 4th Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament held earlier this month! The tournament was coordinated by Jim Fraasch, and was hosted by Darrell Skogen of Maple Grove. I still can’t believe that Darrell is currently in his 45th YEAR of teaching! Kudos to you, Darrell!! This tournament was top-notch, and fun for any level of APBA player!
I selected the 1989 Oakland A’s simply because this team was one of my favorites as a youth, and I had just completed a master game season replay with the squad. Fresh off reclaiming a world title, I was hoping for further success down in the Twin Cities. My division consisted of some pretty stout competition. In my six-team pool, the top two teams advanced to the playoffs. The teams in my pool were: 1905 Giants, 1961 Yankees, 1968 Tigers, 1977 Dodgers, and the 1989 Cubs. My biggest concern was my offense. This A’s team has a tendency to not produce runs, especially if the top of the order is stagnant. I knew my pitching staff would hold their own, and was confident that I wouldn’t be blown out.
In my first two games I was matched up against the 68 Tigers, and Mr. Bill Lilley! Bill won the Chicagoland tournament with this team, so I was shaking at the knees as I was about to roll my first ever face-to-face APBA tournament game of my life.
68 TIGERS 3, 89 A’s 2 (10 innings)
This was an epic tourney opener! The Oakland braun was on display early. Rickey Henderson led off the game with a 66-0, 33-1 homerun off 31-game winner Denny McClain. With two outs, Mark McGwire dialed long distance with another solo shot, and now I’m up 2-0! Not so fast….Al Kaline’s solo homer later in the inning made it 2-1. The rest of the game offensively for me was excruciating and frustrating! From the third inning through the 9th, I had at least one runner in scoring position EVERY INNING and didn’t score!! Henderson had two doubles, and doubles by Carney Lansford, McGwire, and Dave Parker went all for not. Meanwhile, Detroit knotted the game up in the 4th on a Norm Cash homer. The Tigers threatened in the 8th and 9th, stranding two runners both innings. Finally, the Tigers scored a run in the 10th. With two outs, Gates Brown doubled, Willie Horton walked, and Cash singled to score Brown. McClain allowed a two-out double to Lansford in the bottom of the 10th, but Jose Canseco capped off an 0-5 night with a strike out. McClain earned the win, while Mike Moore (AY) suffered defeat.
89 A’s 4, 68 TIGERS 3
As was the first game, this one was a white-knuckler to the end. Dave Stewart (BYZ) took on Mickey Lolich. Detroit provided the early firepower with some clutch two-out hitting. In the bottom of the 3rd, Brown’s two-out double plated Mickey Stanley and Kaline to put the Tigers ahead 2-0. In the 4th, Stanley’s two-out double scored Bill Freehan as Detroit led 3-0. I’m thinking, “Great…another loss.” My PED dice, however, worked their magic in the latter half of the game. Lansford led off the 6th with a single. Bill Lilley went to the bullpen to summon John Hiller. After Canseco flew out, McGwire launched a two-run homer to center. Parker then doubled, but Hiller retired Ken Phelps and Terry Steinbach. In the 8th, Lilley brought in Daryl Patterson. Again, it was McGwire coming up big, with a 11-1 homerun down the line in left to tie the game 3-3. In the bottom of the 8th, with Dennis Eckersley now on the hill (A&C, XZ), the Tigers had men on second and third with one out. Willie Horten attempted a squeeze. The bunted ball was caught by Steinbach, and his rifled throw down to Lansford at third retired a napping Dick McAullife off of third base for a nice 2-5 double play. An unlikely offensive hero emerged for the A’s in the 9th. With two outs and no one on, Walt Weiss slapped a double down the line in left. Rickey came through with a single to shallow right to score Weiss. Eckersely retired the side in the 9th as Oakland earned tournament victory #1. Todd Burns (AYZ) earned the win in relief of Stewart with Eck earning the save. Bill Lilley was a joy to roll against….he lived and died with EVERY ROLL! So much enthusiasm!!
89 A’s 5, 77 DODGERS 3
I jumped over to the adjacent table to roll with Mr. George Adams in one of his custom built ballparks. This was a highlight for sure! Bob Welch (BY) and Tommy John was the marquee pitching matchup in this one. Three singles by Mike Gallego, Rickey, and Canseco gave the A’s a 2-0 lead in the 3rd. Rick Monday was not to be outdone, as he crushed a Welch fastball for a solo homer later in the inning. In the 5th, Lansford singled in Rickey, stole second, and later scored on a McGwire double to make it 4-1. LA fought right back in the 5th as Steve Yaeger’s two-out, two-run round tripper cut it to 4-3. Small ball gave the A’s a much needed two-run cushion in the 6th. Phelps drew a leadoff walk, and Billy Beane came into pinch run. Gallego singled, moving Beane to third with one out. Weiss executed a perfect squeeze bunt for a single with Beane sliding headfirst over home plate to put the A’s on top 5-3. Burns and Eckersley combined to toss four shutout innings of relief with only one man reaching base as the A’s won their second straight ballgame. Welch was the winner, John the loser tossing a complete game, and Eck earned another save.
77 DODGERS 5, 89 A’S 0
My greatest fear came to fruition in game four of the tournament. While Storm Davis (BY) hurled a decent game, my bats went ice cold against Doug Rau as he tossed a five hit shutout while allowing four walks. In four innings, the A’s left runners in scoring position, but could not come up with a timely hit. That would have been vital considering it was only a 1-0 game into the seventh. Reggie Smith belted a solo homer in the 4th, and then Steve Garvey took over. He nailed a two-run homer in the 7th off Rick Honeycutt (AYZ), and another two run bomb in the 9th off Eckersley to separate the Dodgers from the A’s in their 5-0 win. It was a pleasure to play George Adams! His jovial, energetic persona helped me realize to focus more on fun and less on winning! His custom ballparks are second-to-none!
1905 GIANTS 5, 89 A’S 0
As I moved back to my original table for my fifth game of the day, the silenced-bat spirits must’ve followed me over. Jeff Boeding and his dead-ball Giants deadened the Oakland bats in yet another 5-0 shutout. I found out in a hurry that Christy Mathewson is one tough SOB! Mathewson limited the Oakland offense to three lone hits and two walks. The only man to get past first was Parker, who’s two out double in the bottom of the 9th meant nothing in the Giants easy win. Moore suffered his second loss of the tournament. 8 of the 9 starting players for New York reached base.
1905 GIANTS 6, 89 A’s 5
As heartbreaking of a loss the A’s had earlier to those powerful 68 Tigers, this loss was more demoralizing for me in a classic back-and-forth matchup. In the top of the 2nd, Oakland plated the first run of the game on a two-out single by Gallego, scoring Parker. The Giants stormed later that inning, stringing together a walk and three hits (all with two outs) to score three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Trailing 4-2 in the 5th, Jose Canseco’s bat awoke by blasting a 3-run home run to put my squad up 5-4! It was very uplifting to retake the lead. Stewart was replaced in the bottom of the 6th by Todd Burns. With two outs, a double by Roger Bresnahan and a single by Mike Donlin scored two runs off of my A-rated setup man as the Giants now led 6-5. The salt-in-the-wound moment for me came in the top of the 7th. Lansford led off with a walk, and Canseco singled Lansford over to third, with Canseco stealing second. I have runners at second and third, no outs, and Mcgwire and Parker due up. McGwire proceeds into a L-4-6 double play, lining out to second and having Canseco doubled up. Parker lined out to second again to end the 7th. Rickey came up in the 8th with two on and two out, but Joe McGinnity struck Rickey out, and retired the side in the 9th to edge the A’s by a run. This one was tough, as I now had lost three straight games. Jeff was the epitomy of a straight-faced roller. We shared some great stories, and I valued his knowledge and interest of my A’s replays! Classy for sure!
89 A’S 16, 61 YANKEES 5
Sitting with a 2-4 record in my pool, I didn’t have any optimism of making the playoff round at this point. With a twin bill against the 61 Yankees, I wasn’t going to expect much, and was praying to be at least competitive. Gary Borthwick was my opponent, and he, too, was looking to break the skids of a five game winless streak. What transpired was downright nuts! New York broke a scoreless tie in the 4th. A two-run blast by Elston Howard and a solo shot by Yogi Berra were a part of a four-run inning off Welch. The A’s had the APBA gods on their side in the bottom half of the 4th. McGwire walked, Parker reached on an error by Bobby Richardson at second, and Ken Phelps’ infield single loaded the bases with zero outs. Ralph Terry dug in and struck out Steinbach and Gallego, but that Richardson error prevented the inning from being over. The onslaught was about to commence! Weiss hit a bloop two-run single down the line in right to put the A’s on the board. After a Rickey walk, Lansford’s single over second scored two more. Canseco smacked a three run homer and all the sudden, Oakland held a 7-4 lead, scoring 7 unearned runs! Leading 7-5 in the 7th, an even bigger inning loomed ahead for the A’s. 8 runs came across home plate on nine hits and a walk, with six runs scoring with two outs. Oakland added a final run in the 8th as the A’s cruised to a 16-5 win. Welch had more than enough run support to earn the win, hurling a complete game. This win helped wash the taste out of my mouth from the previous three losses!
89 A’s 7, 61 YANKEES 6
This game had runs aplenty early, and a crucial hit late with bullpen help as Oakland escaped with another win. Rickey led off the game reaching on another error by Richardson. Canseco helped make the Yanks pay for that as a 66-1 showed up for a two-run homerun. The “M & M” boys reared their heads later in the 1st as Mantle’s two-run homer and a solo blast by Maris of Storm Davis put New York on top 3-2. Trailing 4-2 in the 3rd, it was Canseco who was the man of the hour for the A’s. With one out, Rickey singled, stole second, and Lansford walked. Canseco followed by drilling a three-run homerun to center, putting the A’s ahead 5-4. Berra and Maris played home run parade in he 4th as their solo shots gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead. Oakland tied the contest back up in the 5th on…..you guessed it….ANOTHER Canseco homer! His solo round-tripper made it 6-6. The A’s went to the bullpen in the 6th with Burns, and he retired six straight over two innings. Oakland took the lead for good in the 8th when Gallego tripled and Rickey singled Gallego in. Eckersley hurled two scoreless innings to preserve another Oakland win! Gary had likely the worst luck in the tournament! I couldn’t believe the rolls that were for him/against him all day. He handled it with class, and it was fun to roll with him!
After my first eight games, the 89 A’s had a record of 4-4 following the sweep of the 61 Yankees. The 1905 Giants were a lock for the top seed, sitting at 7-1 with one game to go. Bill’s 68 Tigers and the 1989 Cubs, my final opponent, were both ahead of me at 5-3. To have a chance to make the playoff round, I’d need to beat the 89 Cubs, the 68 Tigers had to lose to the 77 Dodgers, and my A’s would have to win the run-differential in a potential three-way tie. Well, the first domino to fall was when those Dodgers nipped Mr. Lilley’s Tigers 6-4. So….it was up to the A’s to take it to those 89 Cubs…..led by……my OLDER brother, Ben Lofgren! I’ve played APBA now for five years, and it took that long to hook my brother on the game. This upcoming game was really the culmination of a lot of things….the older/younger brother battle in almost everything we did as kids…..our first APBA tournament ever…..final game of pool play…..winner take all – playoff berth secured – loser DONE. I was eagerly awaiting the outcome of the contest. Moore vs. Maddux (BYZ).
Jose Canseco helped the cause for the 89 A’s in the bottom of first with his 11-1 two-out solo homerun to put me up 1-0. After a scoreless 2nd, what evolved next was downright comical, insane, and…well….pure A’s pleasure!! Walt Weiss led off with a simple groundout to Ryne Sandberg at second. No big deal. Maddux began to unravel in a way that not even a mid-80’s high-rolling Pete Rose could’ve hustled. Back to back walks to Ricky and Lansford and a triple by Canseco plated two runs. After McGwire was walked, Parker’s single to right scored Canseco. Back-to-back infield singles by Phelps and Steinbach brought McGwire in, but Cobra was retired on a fielder’s choice by Gallego. Leading 5-0 with two outs and the bases loaded, the nails were about to get hammered into the coffin. Weiss came up clutch slapping a two-run single to left to score Phelps and Steinbach to make it 7-0. Rickey capped off a 9-run third inning by blasting a 11-0, 33-1 three-run homerun, giving my A’s a 10-0 lead, leaving my brother in absolute bewilderment! It was so funny to see this all unfold with everything at stake! I couldn’t believe it!! Moore was dominant through seven innings. His lone blemish up through that juncture was a two-out triple by Shawon Dunston…that’s it. A two-out, two-run single up the middle by #9 batter Luis Salazar made the final 10-2 as Moore allowed four hits, two runs, no walks, and struck out nine to earn his first win in three tries. Ben, of course, was the classy big brother he’s been my whole life, and offered his me his congratulatory blessings, and I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else in that situation! Talk about pressure and euphoria at the same time! We were kids in the candy story!
With the win, my 89 A’s, 68 Tigers, and Ben’s 89 Cubs all finished in a tie for second place in our division, but with the run differential, I was fortunate to claim the second and final playoff berth from the Kent Hrbek Division.
|KENT HRBEK DIVISION||W||L||R||OR||RDIFF|
|1905 GIANTS (JEFF BOEDING)||8||1||45||25||20|
|1989 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN)||5||4||49||38||11|
|1968 TIGERS (BILL LILLEY)||5||4||40||36||4|
|1989 CUBS (BEN LOFGREN)||5||4||39||41||-2|
|1977 DODGERS (GEORGE ADAMS)||3||6||26||29||-3|
|1961 YANKEES (GARY BORTHWICK)||1||8||34||64||-30|
WHEW! I made it! Truthfully, this was the highlight of the “playing” part of the tournament. I’d been through a lot with these 89 A’s, and this was the coronation of sorts for them…..to be one of the final eight teams out of 23 participants. Now, anyone has a shot at winning this thing! After getting through to this point, anything after this would simply be icing on the cake.
Out of the eight playoff teams, I was the 8th and final seed. My first round opponent would me the 2011 Texas Rangers, managed by APBA-legend Kevin Cluff. Kevin is the main moderator of the APBA Delphi Forum, and was hand-picked by Mr. John Herson himself to continue this valuable commodity. On top of that, Kevin was the 2015 National Convention Champion, taking the 1998 Yankees to the top amongst 48 total teams!! I attempted to put my best poker face on and not be intimidated, but this would be a tall order for sure. Before the tournament, I’d only played four APBA Baseball basic-version games in my life….I can’t even imagine how many Kevin has rolled!!
GAME ONE – Mike Moore vs. Alexi Ogando
The A’s won the toss, and I elected to be the home team. His Rangers started the playoffs off right as Michael Young led off the top of the first with a solo shot to center. After that blast, though, both staters settled in nicely. The A’s got a leadoff double in the 4th by Lansford in the second, but my big three – Canseco, McGwire, and Parker all went belly-up. In the 5th, it was a repeat of the previous inning. Ken Phelps doubled to begin the inning, but Steinbach, Gallego, and Weiss were retired. Leading 1-0 in the top of the 6th, Kevin brought in Mike Adams from the pen. The A’s were able to piecemeal a run when Rickey singled, stole second, and scored on Lansford’s second double of the game. Canseco grounded out to shallow third, advancing Lansford to third with one out. Probably the most frustrating event took place next. McGwire lined up to Ian Kinsler at second, and fired the ball over to Adrian Beltre at third to double-up Lansford for an L-4-5 double play to end the inning. I’m thinking to myself at that point:
“A. How many times in McGwire’s career did he line up to second!….and B. Carney Lansford would never be that stupid to get doubled off across the diamond in that situation!!”
However, this is APBA — anything is possible, but at least now the game was tied 1-1. Moore was holding his own, so I left him in to toss the 6th. Elvis Andrus singled and stole second to begin the inning. That gosh-darn Michael Young was at it again, this time singled over McGwire’s head to right as Andrus chugged home to put Texas up 2-1. Moore retired the next three to avert further damage. Eckersley came in and threw shutout ball in the 7th-8th, and Honeycutt tossed a scoreless top of the 9th. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th, the stage was set for a walk off win with Lansford, Canseco, McGwire, and Parker due up against Koji Uehara. With one out, Canseco walked to give the A’s hope. McGwire, though, grounded to short and advanced Canseco to second with two outs. Cobra’s infield single put runners at first and third as Ken Phelps walked to the plate. I made the decision to start Phelps over Dave Henderson simply because of the 66-1 on his card. “Hendu” had a very vanilla season in 1989, and didn’t have a single-column 1. For this reason, I inserted Phelps in, and to this point in the tourney, he hadn’t really done “jack” for me, but here was his chance. Kevin pondered for a good minute to throw to him or walk him. Kevin decided to “play ball.” I rolled a 12-25 – groundout to second, and the game was over! UGH! I was SO CLOSE! Adams earned the win, Moore the loss, and Uehara the save.
GAME TWO – Dave Stewart vs. CJ Wilson
Needing to win twice, and my lone A pitcher now done for the series, I’d seriously need my lumber and bullpen to carry me through if I had any hope of advancing to the semifinals of the tournament. The bottom of the first for Oakland was downright ugly. Several times, Kevin would describe his Rangers as the following: “These guys can RAKE!” Well, they sure did to start this game off! Two singles, two doubles, a walk, and a sac fly led to a three-run inning for the Rangers. “Great,” I thought. But….my A’s clawed right back in as the bottom of the order dialed up three-straight extra-base hits with two outs. Phelps doubled and scored on Steinbach’s double. Steinbach came home on a triple hit by Gallego! Weiss stranded Gallego at third after he struck out. Stewart breezed thru the 2nd-5th innings, allowing just two hits. Another golden opportunity slipped through the cracks in the top of the 3rd. With two outs and men on first and second, Parker reached on an error by Kinsler at second to load the bases for….PHELPS. Could he clutch up and get me that big hit?? Well, not exactly, as his 34-31 flyout to the warning track in center was just not enough as the A’s left the bases loaded. In the 6th, Texas gave itself some breathing room. A rare error by Weiss at short, and doubles by Mitch Moreland and Andrus put two more runs up for the Rangers. Burns had to relieve Steward in the middle of the 6th, and retired Young and Josh Hamilton to get out of the jam. Oakland was able to inch closer with a run in the 8th off Uehara as Parker’s single to right drove in Canseco, but that was it. The 2011 Rangers defeated my 1989 A’s by a score of 5-3.
Kevin would end up falling in the semi-finals to the eventual champion 1937 Yankees led by Leroy Arnoldi. As you can see, a majority of the playoff-games were tight!
TCABT-IV BRACKET RESULTS:
|1||2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF)||2||5||2|
|8||1989 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN)||1||3||0|
|2||1906 CUBS (ERIC BERG)||2||2||0|
|7||1937 YANKEES (LEROY ARNOLDI)||3||3||2|
|3||1905 GIANTS (JEFF BOEDING)||5||2||7||2|
|6||2013 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES)||4||7||5||1|
|4||1976 REDS (PAUL VAN BEEK)||2||8||5||2|
|5||1911 ATHLETICS (CRAIG CHRISTIAN)||3||1||4||1|
|1||2011 RANGERS (KEVIN CLUFF)||2||3||0|
|7||1937 YANKEES (LEROY ARNOLDI)||8||7||2|
|3||1905 GIANTS (JEFF BOEDING)||2||8||4||2|
|4||1976 REDS (PAUL VAN BEEK)||5||5||3||1|
|3||1905 GIANTS (JEFF BOEDING)||5||2||0|
|7||1937 YANKEES (LEROY ARNOLDI)||10||3||2|
My 89 A’s finished the tournament with a 5-6 overall record. That doesn’t appear to be too stellar on the surface, but the grit they showed when they needed to makes that record far less blemished! Considering the stout tournament field, I was more than tickled to be in the final 8. As I continue to play this addicting game, somehow, someway, these dice “know” more than meets the eye. It’s all in what those two six-sided cubes warrant in any given situation. I’m further hooked on this game after playing in this tournament, and just like Halloween, Christmas, and Tax Day, the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament will likely be a ritual now for me! Below are some final statistics of my 1989 A’s . Thanks for reading!
1989 OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Rickey Henderson .304 (14-16), 12 Runs, 5 Doubles, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 8 SB
Carney Lansford .261 (12-46), 7 runs, 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SB
Jose Canseco .378 (17-45), 10 Runs, 4 Doubles, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 4 BB, 11 K, 1 SB
Mark McGwire .214 (9-42), 6 Runs, 2 Doubles, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K.
Dave Parker .217 (10-46), 2 Runs, 4 Doubles, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
Ken Phelps .235 (8-34), 4 Runs, 2 Doubles, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K
Terry Steinbach .212 (7-33), 3 Runs, 2 Doubles, 2 RBI, 9 K’s
Mike Gallego .219 (7-32), 4 Runs, 1 Double, 2 Triples, 1 RBI
Walt Weiss .194 (7-36), 3 Runs, 2 Doubles, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 2 SB
Ron Hassey .500 (3-6)
Dave Henderson .000 (0-9), 1 BB, 3 K
Billy Beane .167 (1-6), BB, K
Tony Phillips .000 (0-4).
TEAM BATTING AVERAGE .247 (95-385)
Mike Moore (1-3) 32.67 IP, 3.03 ERA, 25 Hits, 14 BB, 15 K, 3 HR
Dave Stewart (0-2) 15.67 IP, 6.89 ERA, 20 Hits, 7 BB, 14 K
Bob Welch (2-0) 14 IP, 5.14 ERA, 13 Hits, 1 BB, 4 K, 4 HR
Storm Davis (0-1) 11.33 IP, 6.35 ERA, 9 HIs, 8 BB, 12 K, 5 HR
Rick Honeycutt (0-0) 6.67 IP, 1.35 ERA, 2 Hits, 3 BB, 4 K
Todd Burns (1-0) 10 IP, 0.90 ERA, 4 Hits, 0 BB, 3 K
Dennis Eckersley (1-0, 2 Saves). 7.67 IP, 2.35 ERA, 5 Hits, 1 BB, 3 K