Monthly Archives: August 2010

Seamus Headley and the Ticking Clock

PHILADELPHIA—First, the ball game. If ever a team has their Thang going, it’s the Phillies. With Schmidt, McBride and Boone all injured and having to face Don Sutton with the awful Christenson going for them, winning is still no problem. Continue reading

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Escape from New York

Friendly Fred back at ya, hitch-hikin’ my butt out of the Big Dark Apple. Here I was for the last month, fixin’ on catching this Son of Sam clown and I forgot the whole damn city was losing its power last night. There was serious looting all over my grandma’s neighborhood, and I got stuck in a crowd that was trashing a Sam Goody’s, and then fires broke out and I SWEAR I had nothing to do with any of it but then the riot cops were there throwing us into wagons and I had to knock one down with a tape deck just to get away.

The real bummer is that the Yanks just got to half a game out yesterday, have one more game with the White Sox tonight, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to the Stadium with the place ringed by nasty-ass cats in uniforms and helmets. Screw that. I’m going down to Philly instead for the end of that righteous Dodgers series. See ya on the flip side tomorrow…

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Teke Experience

My plan was for us to get to Philly as soon as possible, because I had a good hunch Sherman, Little Me, and our former, faster car would be there for the big showdown with his Dodgers, but Sheila had other ideas. She’s suddenly become a nervous nellie about the Pirates, realizing they had some meaning in her buried past, and taking in their Sunday doubleheader with the Cards was her way of “facing her fears” or some junk. So go ahead, babe, knock yourself out… Continue reading

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Perfect Place for a Coma

MONTREAL—Olympic Stadium is two-thirds full for the series finale with the first-place Dodgers, but the team’s lackluster play since April has drained most of the spirit out of their home.

I am all right with that, because ever since Seamus announced he was Little Buzz’s long lost uncle, we’ve all been in a bit of a coma, and an Expos game provides the matching hypnotic atmosphere. The light in here is an odd grey, kind of half inside and half outside, and whenever fans stand the yellow, spring-bottom seats pop up, shooting a hollow, metallic echo around the park. Sherman is oblivious, of course, because he’s too focused on his team’s league-leading action, but I’m too distracted to even score it. “Lester?” asks the boy, “How many whiffers does Twitchell have now?” He loves to use the word whiffer and say the name Twitchell, and after the third time he asks the same question I just make up a number that will satisfy him. Continue reading

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Notes on a Midnight Massacre

Today I’m honored to feature a special guest post from The Common Man, who along with Bill of The Daily Something comprises one half of the excellent new blogging sandwich called The Platoon Advantage.  Travel back with Mr. Common as he explores the most notorious transaction of 1977…

by The Common Man

It’s called “The Midnight Massacre” and “the darkest day in New York Mets history.” June 15, 1977. In the span of 24 hours, the Mets made three deals and traded away two of their star players, Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman, both of whom were feuding with club management. Utility infielder Mike Phillips also got dealt. In return, the Mets brought back a great deal of younger, cheaper players, who they hoped could form the basis of the next decent squad. Continue reading

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And Speaking of Vacations…

For most of this coming week I will be off camping in the great mountainous north with the Funky Family.  Tune in Monday for a special guest blogger in my absence, and on Wednesday and Friday, when Blaster, our automated ’77 posting robot, will put up my next two regular entries, barring a disturbance in the digital force.  Peace!

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How We Spent Our All-Star Vacation

It’s hard to believe I had never made it to Cooperstown, living on the east coast my whole life, but the three-day All-Star Series and a bunch of free time with Sheila finally made it possible. Forgot to mention last time that we had just enough money left to buy a used VW van from some hippies outside of Cleveland, which is how we putt-putted our way to Philly for those Pirates games.

But now we wanted a little alone time to just enjoy the country roads, and what better place to do that than the Hall of Fame? Ernie Banks and Al Lopez are getting inducted next month, along with a couple of Negro Leaguers Pop Lloyd and Martin Dihigo, and it would be nice to be back for that, but that weekend would also be extra crowded.

What nobody tells you about Cooperstown is how incredibly beautiful the lake and little village are. We ended up sleeping in back of the van on a futon, not being able to afford the fancy inn we were parked in the lot of, but definitely had our fill of the local sights. Best of all was Doubleday Field, a gorgeous little ball park where some high school kids were playing. Looking at the trees and a church steeple and houses right outside the fence, we felt like we were back in the late 1800s or something.

Sheila was starting to get restless there, though. She was itching to find out how her Pirates were doing, and wasn’t getting good reception on her SuperPhone. Then she learned in a bar that the Cubs had beaten them in extra innings, putting her in a gross mood the whole night.

So today we kept moving, and ended up over in the even more gorgeous Berkshires to see the Boston pops play at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Or I guess I should say hear them play, because that’s where the grooviest adults get a picnic together and sit on the huge lawn for the show.  We camped out next to two couples who swore they had even seen The Who perform Tommy there seven years ago  One of the guys said he would kill to see the Beatles do a reunion show at Tanglewood sometime.  “They got about two years to pull that off,” I said, and Sheila poked me in the ribs to shut me up.

Sheila and me shared a bottle of Mateus and some take-out fried clams, and I have to say it was pretty nice even though I couldn’t tell you Arthur Fiedler from Cecil Fielder. The cool thing was that the lawn was littered with a half dozen or so Red Sox fans, following their game with Chicago on transistor radio earphones. I only made three bathroom trips but still caught a lot of the scoring details by checking in with the same fans.

Then the Sox were behind again, and I was suddenly the one bummed out. I told Sheila it was time to get serious tomorrow about rounding up the nutty troops, or at least tracking Seamus down, because he seemed to be the key to getting us out of this weird decade.

“Are you sure Carlton?” she asked, gazing at me through the amber, heart-shaped sunglasses she had found in back of our van. “I suspect I’m beginning to…I don’t know…dig the scene here.”

I stared at her for one second, then took another bathroom break.

The Buzz Line
Gip wraps up each and every day’s games, no matter where he is on the 1977 map.

at PHILLIES 8-9-0, ASTROS 7-12-2
The Astros need to undergo deep hypnosis to convince themselves they’re in the Astrodome at all times, because they sure can’t win anywhere else. This time their Cruz and Watson homers are topped by Luzinski and McBride homers, and they’re down 6-2 when they go into orbit for five runs off Lonborg and Garber in the 8th. Only to have Forsch boot a grounder with one gone in the Phillie 8th and Schmidt pop another homer for yet another dramatic late win.

DODGERS 7-13-2, at EXPOS 5-11-3
The L.A. losing streak lasts one game, as they smash open a 3-3 game with four runs off Schatzeder and Atkinson in the 7th, capped by Baker and Cey bleacher bombs.

at PIRATES 8-13-0, CUBS 1-6-1
Back to Buc business, although Stargell gets injured for six games after popping the game-winning homer in the 2nd inning. The big shock is Odell Jones going the distance with a 6-hitter. Oh right, it’s the Cubs.

at REDS 6-8-1, CARDS 2-8-1
Bench takes over the home run lead with his 34th and 35th off the suddenly bad Bob Forsch, loser of five in a row. Seaver, on the other hand, is now 13-2.

WHITE SOX 7-15-4, at RED SOX 4-7-1
Despite Alan Bannister’s best efforts to throw the game away, Chicago holds on behind their only reliable starter, Ken Kravec, and another big blast from Richie Zisk. Bannister butchers all four of his fielding chart plays, then turns an impossible DP in the last of the 9th to put the game away.

ROYALS 3-8-0, at ORIOLES 1-8-2
Uh-oh. K.C. takes a game and a half lead for the first time in a while, as Colborn beats Grimsley and the Royals out-extra-base-hit the Birds 5-2.

at YANKEES 6-10-2, RANGERS 4-9-1
Figueroa and dem Yanks do it again, and are now a half game behind Boston. Rivers is tried in the 5th hole and responds with two singles and a homer off Dock Ellis. Reggie also goes yard in this must-win, due to Torrez pitching tomorrow.

at INDIANS 5-10-2, TWINS 4-7-1
If you play it, they will come and lose. Minnesota scores two out of the gate, but Zahn gets raked for five runs in no time, Bibby gets the CG, and the Tribe is suddenly one game away from leaving last place.

American League through Friday, July 11

Kansas City 50 36 .581
Boston 47 36 .566 1.5
New York 47 37 .560 2
Texas 44 41 .518 5.5
Baltimore 42 41 .506 6.5
Chicago 38 45 .458 10.5
Minnesota 34 49 .410 14.5
Cleveland 33 50 .398 15.5

National League through Friday, July 11

Los Angeles 49 34 .590
Philadelphia 50 36 .581 0.5
Cincinnati 49 37 .570 1.5
Pittsburgh 49 38 .563 2
St. Louis 43 40 .518 6
Houston 38 47 .447 12
Montreal 34 50 .405 15.5
Chicago 27 57 .321 22.5

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How Ya Like THESE Apples?

Time for the mid-season stats, where you can basically double your pleasure, double your fun, and imagine George Foster hitting 68 homers and driving in 198 runs.  You can also follow the rising and swooning of your favorite team on my special pennant race graphs for the American and National Leagues.

Finally, for a deeper paragraph on each club, check out my new Funk Zone column on the Strat-O-Matic Web site. Go Cubbies!

AL LEADERS

OPS
1.054 Carew, MIN
0.982 Yaz, BOS
0.961 Brett, KC
0.960 Gamble, CHX
0.938 Hargrove, TEX
0.937 Thornton, CLE
0.924 Hisle, MIN
0.924 Jackson, NYY
0.924 Rice, BOS
0.901 Bostock, MIN

BATTING AVG
.420-Carew, MIN, .344-Brett, KC, .342-Bostock, MIN,
.337 Yaz, BOS, .324-Hisle, MIN, .321-Cowens, KC

HOMERS
22-Harrah, TEX, 21-Yaz, BOS, 19-Evans, BOS,
19-Gamble, CHX, 18-Thornton, CLE, 17-Nettles, NYY

RBIs
70-Rice, BOS, 68-Yaz, BOS, 65-McRae, KC,
62-Harrah, TEX, 59-Hisle, MIN, 55-Brett, KC

GWRBIs
10-Brett, KC, 9-Piniella, NYY, 9-Murray, BAL, 8-Horton, TEX,
8-Cowens, KC, 8-Yaz, BOS, 8-Singleton, BAL

WALKS
70-Hargrove, TEX, 54-Carbo, BOS,49-Thornton, CLE,
47-Harrah, TEX, 44-Carew, MIN, 42-Fisk, BOS

WINS
12-4 Leonard, KC, 11-6 Palmer, BAL, 10-3 Perry, TEX,
9-4 Gullett, NYY, 9-4 Kravec, CHX, 8-3 Jenkins, BOS

E.R.A.
1.91 Leonard, KC, 2.61 Guidry, NYY,
3.44 May, BAL, 3.44 Blyleven, TEX

SAVES
14-Campbell, BOS, 8-Littell, K.C., 8-Lyle, NYY, 7-LaGrow, CHX,

STRIKEOUTS
128-Leonard, KC, 120-Guidry, NY, 111-Blyleven, TEX
103-Perry, TEX, 103-Eckersley, CLE,

NL LEADERS

OPS
1.106 Smith, L.A.
1.084 Foster, CIN
1.028 Parker, PIT
1.013 Bench, CIN
0.998 Carter, MON
0.984 McBride, PHL
0.958 Baker, L.A.
0.926 Cruz, HOU
0.923 Templeton, STL
0.912 Robinson, PIT

BATTING AVG
.378-Templeton, STL, .376-Parker, PIT, .357-McBride, PHL,
.336-Simmons, STL, .331-Rose, CIN, .328-Robinson, PIT, .320-Foster, CIN,
.320-Hernandez, STL

HOMERS
34-Foster, CIN, 32-Bench, CIN, 24-Carter, MON, 20-Smith, L.A.,
19-Watson, HOU, 19-Cey, L.A., 18-Murcer, CHC, 18-Schmidt, PHL

RBIs
99-Foster, CIN, 84-Bench, CIN, 69-Watson, HOU, 75-Parker, PIT,
61-Simmons, STL, 63-Griffey, CIN, 66-Robinson, PIT, 65-Garvey, L.A.

GWRBIs
11-Watson, HOU, 10-Rose, CIN, 9-Foster, CIN,
8-Parker, PIT, 8-Luzinski, PHL

WALKS
65-Morgan, CIN, 59-Smith- L.A., 50-Schmidt, PHL, 47-Lopes, L.A.

WINS
13-4 Candelaria, PIT, 12-2 Seaver, CIN, 11-5 Carlton, PHL,
11-4 John, L.A., 10-3 Lonborg, PHL, 10-5 Sutton, L.A.

E.R.A.
1.76-Candelaria, PIT, 2.32-Richard, HOU, 2.77-Carlton, PHL
2.89-Seaver, CIN, 3.01-Forsch, STL

SAVES
11-Hough, L.A., 11-Kerrigan, MON, 10-Sambito, HOU,
10-Gossage, PIT, 9-Garber, PHL, 8-Sutter, CHC

STRIKEOUTS
112-Carlton, PHL, 97-Rogers, MON, 103-Richard, HOU,
98-Seaver, CIN, 87-Candelaria, PIT, 84-Hooton, L.A.

GET YOUR TEAM BREAKDOWNS RIGHT HERE! Per usual, here are PDFs of Team Hitting, Team Pitching, and Assorted Miscellany.

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Previously, in Funkyball…

Carlton “Buzz” Gip is just an ordinary divorced father, living out his early middle age watching baseball games in his Maine trailer—until he discovers he is actually a mental patient at Squallpocket State Hospital. He swears that two strange men in black visited him with a mission to replay the 1977 season using a set of custom time-transporting Strat-O-Matic dice, but was it all in his head?

Sharing the possible delusion are his equally odd ward-mates, all followers of teams other than Buzz’s beloved Red Sox, and rolling rights to the “special dice” are soon debated. In a nasty, multi-patient wrestling match over the dice one day, all five patients are accidentally zapped back to 1977, leaving Dr. Sheila Grossinger and Seamus Headley, a mysterious hired spook posing as the hospital sweeper, to join forces, transport themselves back to ’77 using newer, more powerful dice, and retrieve the patients.

Our odd gang enjoys an eventful month or two beaming around to various ball games and even taking in the premiere of Star Wars. Surly Phillies phanatic Mikey Spano accidentally drowns in the Royals Stadium fountain, creating some tension, but for the most part they all stay as sane as possible, and even befriend a semi-retired Texas sportswriter to help them get around.

“Dr. Sheila” and the Sweeper appear outside the Indians’ ballpark, though, and the patients panic, flee in all directions. While Seamus recovers from a severe concussion in a Cleveland hospital, Buzz and the doctor hit the road to hunt them down. They scoop up the five-year-old Buzz from the bowels of Fenway Park, where he was apparently abandoned back in ’77, and take the unaware boy west in search of Dodger fanatic Sherman Wayman.

As we return to our tale, Buzz and Dr. Sheila have lost Sherman and Little Buzz along with their used car, but have found romance on an Amtrak sleeper; Friendly Fred is waiting around on the east coast for his chance to capture Son of Sam; Crazy Amy Gulliver is living under a roller coaster at an Ohio amusement park; and wandering schizophrenic Lester has suddenly found himself driving north with Sherman, Little Buzz and a woozy, recently armed Seamus in the back seat…

* * *

“So what if customs asks for IDs?” It’s the third time Sherman has asked me that since we crossed into Pennsylvania.

“What did I tell you? Canadians are all nice, even the customs people. They’ll believe whatever we make up.”

“How do you know, junior? You’ve never even been there.”

“Neither have YOU!”

The argument gets the boy whining, and Seamus pops awake. Sees his wrists tied together with about fifty yards of dental floss.

“Where are we?…” he growls.

“Heading up to Montreal,” I say. “Sherman might die on us if he misses one stupid Dodger series.”

“At least they’re in first!” Sherman barks, “Where’s your lousy Cardinals and Cubs and White Sox and Royals and Twins these days, huh?”

“The Royals are in first.”

“Oh….right. But that league doesn’t count.”

Seamus tries to rip his hands free but the floss digs into his skin. “You guys don’t know what’s going on here, trust me.”

“We should trust you? Pulling a gun on us? How come you fainted before when you saw the kid?”

Sherman’s question freezes him. He glances out the window at passing trees. Little Buzz stares at him the same empty way he did down in the Busch Stadium parking lot. Like he might even recognize him.

“It doesn’t matter…”

“So what does??” I yell, turning north toward Erie and Buffalo, “Who the frick are you, and what the frack is going on??”

Seamus sighs. “I talked myself into a contracting job for Patriot Act Inc. a long time ago, just so I could keep tabs on Buzz. But now I’m in too deep. And you all could be in danger.”

“Im in danger of crapping my shorts if we don’t find a rest area soon!” says Sherman, “Spit it out, son.”

“Yeah, why do you even care about Buzz?”

Seamus sits up the best he can, leans forward and plops his chin on the seat, right next to my shoulder.

“Because he’s my nephew, you lunatic.”

Sherman and I share a stunned glance in the rear view mirror. Little Buzz suddenly whirls around in the passenger seat, grins at our bound companion.

“Uncle Seamus!!”

The Buzz Line
Gip wraps up each and every day’s games, no matter where he is on the ’77 map…

WHITE SOX 16-19-3, at RED SOX 7-16-0
Not exactly the way my boys want to open the second half. The scary thing is that the butchering comes with Don Aase on the hill, and his team is down 10-1 when he leaves after three and two-third innings. Seven Chicago homers clear the boards, as they have to be thrilled to just play in a hitter’s park. Steve Stone and the usual swiss cheese White Sox defense do their best to let Boston back in the game when Fisk caps a 3-run 8th with a homer, but Dal Canton comes on to strand the bases full and mercifully end it.

at ORIOLES 8-15-2, ROYALS 3-6-2
Shocker #2? Well, sort of, because Paul Splittorff hasn’t had a good start in well over a month. Except the Birds had dropped six straight before this great outing by Flanagan and this five-double and one triple attack.

at YANKEES 4-5-0, RANGERS 3-6-0
Inching closer once again are the Yanks. Their 2-6 spots go 0-for-18 against Blyleven, but the basement of the lineup earns Guidry the win. Down 1-0 in the 7th, Chambliss doubles, White triples and Dent hits a sac fly to put them ahead. Texas scores twice in the 8thto go back in front, but Chambliss and White walks and a Dent walkoff triple steal the game in the 9th.

at INDIANS 3-10-0, TWINS 2-6-1
Minnesota’s miserable July resumes, as the Twinks give the Tribe all their runs when Wilfong botches what would have been an inning-ending DP with the bases loaded in the 5th, and Count Lowenstein takes the Earl of Thormodsgard down the line for a 2-run double.

CUBS 9-13-1, at PIRATES 8-19-2 (11 innings)
I’m sorry, THIS is the shocker of the day, maybe the year. Ray Burris has nothing, and the Bucs rack up seven runs on him with five extra base hits in the first three innings. The problem is that Reuss is just as bad, and gets yanked in the 4th after giving the Cubbies six runs of their own. Then the problem of rotten dice luck sets in. After the Cubs tie the game on a Trillo tater in the 7th, Pittsburgh misses a 1-7 HR chance, a 1-7 single chance and a 1-11 single chance, all of them would-be game-winners. So naturally, Greg Gross rolls a 1-4 HR shot off the Goose to win it. Some days…

CARDS 12-16-1, at REDS 3-4-2
One more shock for the road, only because St. Louis has been struggling so much lately. John Denny, of all people, shuts Cincy down while the Cards are busy playing hockey with Paul Moskau’s head. Even more amazing, Bench’s 33rd homer, a solo shot in the 2nd that gives the Reds a fleeting lead, is the first 4-bagger Denny has given up all season.

at EXPOS 2-4-0, DODGERS 1-7-0
Okay, I give up. It’s National Shocker Day. Sutton completely outpitches Rogers, except for the double and two homers he allows to Wayne Garrett to give the ‘Spos the game.

at PHILLIES 4-5-0, ASTROS 3-4-0
And put the Phils half a game back again. Ahead 3-2 in the 9th, the Astros blow it in, yup, shocking fashion, on a two-out, 2-run blast by Bake McBride off Ken Forsch.

Tomorrow (finally) will be half-season stats day!

American League through Thursday, July 10

Kansas City 49 36 .576
Boston 47 35 .573 0.5
New York 46 37 .554 2
Texas 44 40 .524 4.5
Baltimore 42 40 .512 5.5
Chicago 37 45 .451 10.5
Minnesota 34 48 .415 13.5
Cleveland 32 50 .390 15.5

National League through Thursday, July 10

Los Angeles 48 34 .585
Philadelphia 49 36 .576 0.5
Cincinnati 48 37 .565 1.5
Pittsburgh 48 38 .558 2
St. Louis 43 39 .524 5
Houston 38 46 .452 11
Montreal 34 49 .410 14.5
Chicago 27 56 .325 21.5

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Let’s Play One!

The three-game Funky All-Star Series concludes today from sunny and friendly Toronto. To report the action, here are Harry Caray and Calvin J. Butterworth—together again for the first time.

Game Three—
EXHIBITION STADIUM

HELLO everybody, THIS is Harry Caray, coming to you from not as beautiful but very Canadian Exhibition Stadium, which is actually a converted football field for the Argonauts team, but WHO CARES? It’s the All-Star Series finale! Joining me in the booth is Cal Butterworth from the 1924 Detroit Free-Enterprise, as intelligent and polite a man as you’ll ever meet in the game. Now Cal, you’ve never worked a game in this decade before, so maybe you could tell the folks out there what that’s like. I see you have your can of Fresca already.

Yes, you are most observant. And it is a rather refreshing tonic on such a humid afternoon. If I can only master this electronic typewriting machine… Continue reading

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