Why We Play the Games

LOS ANGELES—Is there anything worse than having a drippy cold in sunny L.A.? Little Buzz came down with one while we were in St. Louis, so now everyone on the bus including me has Niagara Mucus Falls going. Sometimes I just hate myself.

What this means is we get to follow the Pirates-Dodgers battle from the crowded comfort of the Funkyland Express, Row 17, while parked in the lot of Tito’s Tacos. At least the game keeps us awake.

Game of the Day

Burt Hooton vs. Odell Jones. Damn. May as well be Bob Gibson vs. Dooley Womack. Except this is 1977, where anything can, most likely, and usually does happen. Steve the Garv tries to reverse that notion early, lofting a high fly into the Dodger bullpen with two aboard for a 3-0 1st inning lead. But it’s Hero/Goat Appreciation Day in the Ravine, as Steve-O kicks away a Bill Robinson squibbler to open the 2nd. Ed Ott picks out a Hooton ball and deposits it in the RF bleachers and it’s 3-2 in a flashbeat.

Make that tied at three in the 3rd, when Oliver triples and Pops Stargell doubles down the line with two gone. Then it’s Odell Time, as Jones wipes the field with 15 of the next Dodgers he faces. Yup, L.A.’s offense has been that bad. Luckily, Hooton matches him until the 9th, when Stargell leads with a walk, Moreno runs, and tears around to third on a two-out Garner double. Skinny Frank Taveras, back at short for the Pirates after a brief injury, rips one up the middle that gets past a diving Lopes for a 5-3 Pittsburgh lead!

With an overused Gossage in the pen, Odell is allowed to start the last of the 9th, but loses it quick. Smith leads with a single, is wild pitched to second, and after Garvey grounds out, Baker and Cey work him for walks.

The Goose jogs in anyway, but he’s more tired than we thought he was. Monday lines a single for one run, and Oates walks in another. Vic Davalillo pinch-hits for Hooton, and bounces a possible DP ball out to recent Buc hero Taveras—

CLANK. Ballgame. And Sheila, sitting a foot away from a cheering Sherman in the stuffy bus, sneezes in his direction.

PIT 021 000 002 – 5 8 1
L.A. 300 000 003 – 6 7 1

W-Hooton L-Jones HRS: Ott, Garvey

The Buzz Line

at CARDS 8-16-0, PHILLIES 2-7-2
St. Louis routs the Phils again, this time giving Jim Lonborg his worst beating since April. Bob Forsch is back on the beam for the Cards, taking a 5-hit shutout into the 9th before Hebner rolls a scoring triple.

REDS 1-4-0, at ASTROS 0-5-1
Boy, Houston has just been giving Cincy fits. but Fred Norman outpitches Joaquin Andujar here in a sizzling duel. The lone run comes in the top of the 8th in classic style: Morgan walks, steals second, is balked to third, and scores on a clutch Rose single.

at ROYALS 7-9-0, YANKEES 2-7-0
Nothing but weirdness in the AL, starting in K.C., where Andy Hassler easily outpitches Ron Guidry. If you need me to repeat that I will. A 4th inning Yankee run gets steamrolled in no time as Cowens triggers a four-run rally with a 2-run dinger. The Royals add three doubles (two by Bob Heise!) and a Wathan triple to the eventual mini-onslaught.

RED SOX 7-11-1, at TWINS 4-11-2
The good Minnesota lucky streak was about to end soon, and does it ever. They miss a run-scoring single on a 1-15 roll (75% chance) and see Carew get thrown out twice at home plate by Lynn on 80% chances. Meanwhile Lynn rolls a 1-7 chance (35%) for an RBI single and Fisk adds a 35% chance insurance homer in the 9th. Sometimes, as they say, the dice have eyes. For Pudge, by the way, it’s his eleventh tater in July.

ORIOLES 4-8-1, at RANGERS 3-11-2
Nothing’s gone right for Baltimore lately, so I guess they were owed one of these, even more ridiculous. Texas strands thirteen runners with the help of three missed 1-13 singles, a 1-15 single, and two 1-10 homer rolls. Pat Kelly singles in the tiebreaker in the 8th, Singleton follows with a bomb, and Gaylord Perry loses for just the fourth time all year.

at WHITE SOX 5-5-2, INDIANS 4-5-0
Second straight super outing by Barrios, Zisk with a homer and three RBIs, and Chicago continues their late push to escape mediocrity.

SPECIAL NOTE: Beginning tonight (9/30) and continuing every last Wednesday of the month for the foreseeable future,  yours truly will be co-hosting Tumbling Dice: the Seamheads Strat-O-Matic Show, a half-hour podcast in conjunction with the game company’s 50th anniversary next year. Mike Lynch and Steve Lenox will probably do more of the blabbing for the first installment, but we’ll be featuring guests soon, and tonight we’ll have an exclusive segment from Bob Costas in which he discusses his childhood Strat playing. You can listen in from right here.

American League through Wednesday, July 30

Boston 58 44 .569
New York 58 45 .563 0.5
Kansas City 58 47 .552 1.5
Texas 55 49 .529 4
Baltimore 50 52 .490 8
Chicago 46 57 .447 12.5
Cleveland 44 59 .427 14.5
Minnesota 43 59 .422 15

National League through Wednesday, July 30

Pittsburgh 61 44 .581
Philadelphia 59 44 .573 1
Cincinnati 60 46 .566 1.5
Los Angeles 56 45 .554 3
St. Louis 53 48 .525 6
Houston 46 59 .438 15
Montreal 42 60 .412 17.5
Chicago 35 66 .347 24

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Why We Play the Games

  1. Knowing the legend that was Frank Taveras, my guess is that error was actually a throw that sailed six rows back into the first base section.

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