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.
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.
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.
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!