The End is Near and Just About Here

Okay, let’s regroup the group. Sheila and her Pirates are flying high after the huge comeback win in L.A., and Sherman has officially checked out. Amy and Mikey have been drinking a lot of beer, with their Reds and Phillies petering out. In the American League camp, Friendly Fred is so high he barely knows his Yankees are in trouble. Meanwhile my Red Sox are three losses or Royal wins away from extinction, and Little Me’s Orioles only one. I bought him a Slinky to play with on the train and distract him.

But I’m calm, and not all that shocked. Gotta say I’ve never seen a team go from unstoppable to unmentionable in such a short time more than this Boston bunch, but the real team that year didn’t win either, and in fact finished as far behind New York as they are now, so there’s that.

Seamus the White keeps telling us that evaporation is painless. I suppose, but I’d still like to see Pam and Timmy before I leave. In case you don’t remember, they were the rest of my family before I ended up in the Squallpocket loony bin.

“Give it up, Buzz,” says Seamus. “Just a week left in the season, and we got some Royals and Rangers action to pay attention to.”

“C’mon man, this train can take us anywhere.”

“Yeah but it makes no sense. Pam is in grade school and Timmy isn’t even a notion.”

“So I’ll find Pam at school. You gotta let me do this, Seamus.”

He grumbled, eased the Zipline’s controls as we glided to a stop underneath Arlington Stadium.

“We’ll talk after the game.”

Game of the Day

ARLINGTON, TX—The Rangers have played the Royals tough, 9-8 against them on the year, and with them just two back in the loss column, it’s time they got tougher.

Too bad no one told Doyle Alexander. BOOM! First pitch of the game to Pete LaCock is into the bleachers on this warm Saturday afternoon. First pitch of the 2nd inning and BOOM! Further into the bleachers by Darrell Porter.

Claudell Washington leads the last of the 2nd with the third leadoff homer in two innings, but Doyle isn’t fooling anyone but Freddie Patek. Whiffs him to end the 2nd, whiffs him to end the Royal 4th after two walks and a single load the bases. A two-out triple by Beniquez ties the game minutes later, getting Peachy all amped and Lester hot and bothered.

Then there’s the top of the 5th, and hell is unleashed. White leads with a clean double. LaCock singles him to third. Al Cowens, the K.C. MVP by any standard, cranks one over 420 feet and the Royals are up 5-2. Alexander then walks Brett. Throws away an infield single hit to his left. A doinky single in front of Campaneris is heaved into the seats for an additional two bases. Mayberry hits a sac fly and six runs are across just like that.

But Campy isn’t done. He bobbles a LaCock grounder in the 6th, and with two outs Brett pounds one out of sight to make it 10-2. Alexander is finally put out of his misery for Mike Marshall, Sundberg calls for a very inside pitch on McRae and Marshall hits him in the head. McRae staggers back up, jumps on top of Sundberg and starts punching him Nolan Ryan style! Yeah, baby! McRae and Sundberg are both tossed for three games, Campaneris makes his third error in two innings, but Otis grounds out to end the mess.

Texas anger is stoked though, like mesquite coals with a blowtorch. Dennis Leonard, shooting for his 20th win, has already given up seven hits himself, five for extra bases. Washington starts the last of the 6th with a single. May forces him, but Beniquez, Campy, Ken Henderson and Wills all single in a row. A wild pitch is followed by a John Ellis single, filling in for the jettisoned Sundberg. Herzog out to the mound, but with the usual thin bullpen behind Leonard and Dennis not officially “tired”, he stays in. A Harrah walk, Hargrove double and Washington single later, it’s 10-9!

Leonard just yawns, settles back down and retires the next ten Rangers he faces. And the Royals are back in business in the 9th. A walk and single with two gone brings Moret in for Barker. It don’t work. Wilson bats for LaCock and walks. The Amazing Mr. Cowens clears the bases with a triple, giving him six RBIs on the day. Brett doubles and it’s 14-9.

It’s about this time I check the out-of-town scoreboard. The Yanks won again, and the Orioles pulled off a clutch win against swan-diving Boston, but I remember that a Texas loss here will finish off the Birds. Oh geez, and little Carlton doesn’t even know, sitting next to me and dropping popcorn kernels through his Slinky. Let’s go Rangers!!

Washington and May go out, but Leonard fumbles a grounder by Beniquez, the sixth error of the game. Campaneris, still hearing the boos for his three glove cramps, bashes one into the seats and it’s 14-11! Henderson walks, and if Wills can reach the tying run comes to the plate!

Mingori finally takes the ball from Leonard, but here’s Willie Horton, the big Texas lefty-masher. I can’t watch, but I have to. Willie skies one deep to center, Otis runs to the track, draws a bead on it and

Lester here. Otis caught it. But Buzz is gone. Just plain gone. And Carlton too. Which makes sense because he’s Buzz as a child. All that’s left is his Slinky. I can’t believe this. Dr. Sheila is crying. The hell with my team winning and dropping their magic number to four with six to play, not to mention Leonard’s 20th win. We’re devastated here.

K.C. 110 062 004 – 14 14 2
TEX 010 107 002 – 11 16 4

W-Leonard L-Alexander SV-Mingori HRS: LaCock, Porter, Cowens, Brett, Washington, Campaneris GWRBI-Cowens


Royals: at Rangers (1), at Twins (2) Rangers (3)
Rangers: Royals (1), at White Sox (3), at Royals (3)
Yankees: Indians (1), at Red Sox (3), at Indians (3)

The Lester Line

at ORIOLES 4-9-0, RED SOX 3-4-0
At least Baltimore goes out in style. A 3-run Murray homer off Wise puts them up in the 3rd, and Rudy May keeps Boston impotent until a hit batter, Burleson single and Rice homer ties it in the 8th. Two gone in the last of the 9th, Wise still in there and throwing 1-hit ball since the Murray blast, Dauer singles, Belanger singles, and Maddox doubles into the gap to put the sad Sox on life support. Maybe it’s better Buzz won’t see this.

at YANKEES 5-8-0, INDIANS 4-8-0
Another thriller. Eckersley falls behind 3-0. Figueroa walks the park to let Cleveland tie it up, then go ahead on a rare Jim Norris homer. Mick the Quick ties it with a triple in the 5th, then wins it with an upper deck shot in the 8th, Lyle not having a panic attack for a change. New York’s tragic number is at four, so they basically have to win every game, including three in Boston next week. Piece of cake.

WHITE SOX 7-13-0, at TWINS 0-1-0
Making a whole bunch of noise at dusk is Chicago, as Jack Kucek (!) gives the Twins nothing but four walks and a Mike Cubbage single with one out in the 7th. Mr. Carew’s 0-for-4 drops him to .391, and I can se why no one hits .400.

at CARDS 3-9-1, DODGERS 1-5-0
Good lord. Getting blown away by Forsch is one thing, but only five hits for the Dodgers against Rasmussen? They actually don’t score at all until the 9th, when Smith homers after Russell misses a %60 single chance, and before Cey ends the game and the pain by missing a %65 single chance. If the Pirates beat the Reds tomorrow (Candelaria vs. Billingham—cripes), the Phils lose in Montreal, and Hooton can’t stop St. Louis, the NL race is history.

at EXPOS 3-9-0, PHILLIES 2-4-0
Another reason is because the Phillies picked the wrong time to give up greenies. Dawson hits a solo shot off Reed in the 2nd. Luzinski and Schmidt go back-to-back off Brown to begin the 2nd. Garrett singles in Speier to tie the game in the 5th. Last of the 9th, Unser singles, Perez doubles in the gap, and that’s that. With Kaat going up against Rogers tomorrow, this is the one the Phils needed.

at ASTROS 8-11-0, CUBS 3-10-0
Art Howe with two singles and a double, Lemongello over Bonham, and not much else to say.

ETCETERAS: For those who couldn’t tune in to last Sunday’s Pirates/Dodgers Tweetcast, it was great fun, and I’ll be doing more of that soon, if not for the Royals/Rangers, then for sure the World Series.  Also, the Seamheads Strat-O-Matic 50th Anniversary League is now up and running, and my 1931 Philadelphia A’s are making some early hay in the American League.  Wish me retro luck!

American League through Saturday, September 20

Kansas City 83 65 .561
Texas 79 68 .537 3.5
New York 79 68 .537 3.5
Boston 76 71 .517 6.5
Baltimore 77 72 .517 6.5
Chicago 68 80 .459 15
Cleveland 67 82 .450 16.5
Minnesota 63 86 .423 20.5

National League through Saturday, September 20

Pittsburgh 87 63 .580
Los Angeles 83 66 .557 3.5
Philadelphia 81 66 .551 4.5
Cincinnati 81 66 .551 4.5
St. Louis 78 70 .527 8
Houston 68 81 .456 18.5
Montreal 59 91 .393 28
Chicago 57 91 .385 29

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