Thursday, December 29, 2016

Challenging the Bashers

Favorite Player Teams!

Good friend, APBA guru, Michigan Tournament organizer, and overall great guy Pastor Rich Zawadzki put together a team of his all-time greats called the Brewster Bashers to run a project.  I have been following the project over Facebook and, as I was running my own Christmas all-time favorites tournament, it occurred to me: Why not have the two play?  So here is the open challenge to Pastor Rich.  I understand, on paper, I am over-matched.  But, as I am a Twins fan, hope springs eternal.

To make the games just a bit more even; I am going to bench my usual second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka in favor of Dustin Pedroia. With that change, here is my line-up, rotation, pen, and bench.

2011 Nishioka        -1.9 WAR
2008 Pedroia           6.9 WAR
A +8.8 WAR swing.

The Linemen are managed by Tom Kelly

Cal wears the "C" on his jersey.

Wilkin County Linemen 

C-    ’09 Joe Mauer                                                    .365                     28-HR                C9
1B- ’88 Kent Hrbek                                                 .312                     31-HR                1B4       (S)
2B- '08 Dustin Pedroia                                           .326                     54-2B                 2B8      (F)
3B- ’91 Chris Sabo                                                   .301                     26-HR                3B5       (F)
SS-  ’91 Cal Ripken                                                   .323                     34-HR                SS10
LF- ’90 Bo Jackson                                                   .272                     28-HR                LF3       (F)
CF- ’88 Kirby Puckett                                             .356                     24-HR                CF3       (F)
RF- ’04 Ichiro Suzuki                                              .372                     36-SB                 RF3       (F)
DH- ’06 Justin Morneau                                         .321                     39-HR                1B4

Look at that outfield!  Left to right, Jackson, Puckett, Ichiro...ouch.  Amazing defense, as long as we can keep the ball in the yard. 

Batting Order (Jersey #)

1.  Ichiro Suzuki  (51)
2. Kirby Puckett  (34)
3. Joe Mauer  (7)
4. Justin Morneau  (33)
5. Cal Ripken  (8)
6. Kent Hrbek  (14)
7. Dustin Pedroia  (15)
8. Bo Jackson (16)
9. Chris Sabo  (17)

A preview of slots 3 and 4:

Bring out the Boom-Sticks..

And one last piece of advice: don't run on Mauer.

1.  ’84 Bert Blyleven                  Byz                      2.87 
2.  ’78 Dave Goltz                        Az                        2.49 
3.  ’12 R. A. Dickey                     Axz                      2.73 
4.  ’00 Rick Ankiel                      Bxy                      3.50 
(5.)  ’92 Jim Abbott                   By                         2.77


Long Relief/Spot Starters 
1.  ’02 Tim Wakefield               B/A*x                 2.81 
2.  ’95 Hideo Nomo                   Axy                      2.54 

’90  Rob Dibble                            A*xy 
’91 Rick Aguilera                        A*x 
’14 Pat Neshek                            A*xyz 
’89 Mitch Williams                    B* xw 

Shut the door:

’94 Deion Sanders                     .283      38-SB                 CF2       (F)
’11 Jeff Francoeur                      .285      47-2B                 RF3
’12 Yadi Molina                           .315      22-HR                C9          (S)
’00 Darrin Erstad                       .355      25-HR                LF3       (F)
’90 Billy Ripken                          .291      28-2B                 2B8       

Speed to burn off the bench.

Taxi Squad- 
’77 Carlton Fisk                          .315      26-HR                C8
’08 Kevin Youkilis                     .312      25-HR                3B
’03 Kevin Millar                          .276      25-HR                OF
’75 Mickey Rivers                      .284      70-SB                 OF         (F)
’87 Harold Reynolds                 .275      60-SB                 INF       (F)
’88 Dan Gladden                         .269      28-SB                 OF-2     (F)

My opponent: The Brewster Bashers

The Rotation:
1913 Walter Jounson  A&B yz
1905 Christy Mathewson  A&B yz
1966 Sandy Koufax A&C xyz
1908 Ed Walsh A&B yz
1995 Greg Maddux A&C yzz

The BIG Train.

The Lineup

1911 Ty Cobb CF                                            .420/.621
1924 Rogers Hornsby 2B                             .424/.696
1921 Babe Ruth  RF                                       .378/.846
1927 Lou Gehrig DH                                      .373/.765
1953 Ted Williams LF                                   .407/.901
1931 Josh Gibson C                                        Stats Unavailable but impressive
1932 Jimmy Foxx 1B                                      .364/.749
1930 Willie Wells SS                                      .420/.685
1925 Judy Johnson                                         .389/.579

The Beast.

Before you write-off the Linemen, let me introduce you to our secret weapon, Mr. Five-Tool Clutch:

Look for updates on this project.  We hope to play face-to-face in Michigan. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hall of Fame Set* Review

My lovely wife gave me the new Hall of Fame set from APBA for Christmas and I had a chance to look them over today.

First and foremost, the name needs a bit of a tweak or asterisk, as not every player carded is in the HOF.  For example, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are carded.

Some of the Internet chatter was not giving much credit to the company for having 14 envelopes.  It seems easy for me to figure out, 8 position players (8), DH (9), Starting Pitching (10 ,11 and 12), Relief pitching (13), and Managers (14). Yes, managers as "players" like Bobby Cox and Branch Rickey have cards.  It takes three envelopes to hold all the starting pitching, so that is how I organized my set.  I don't think there is a right and wrong way to organize them, others have done it by birth month.

354 total cards and 14 envelopes imprinted "Hall of Fame". $40.00 plus shipping. By not sticking to the actual Hall of Fame list APBA opened themselves up to criticism, but that is nothing new and I applaud them for making choices.  For one, I am rather upset and question the exclusion of Kent Hrbek and Chris Sabo in the set, but I am sure the list will be long if we start down that road.

The cards are printed on standard stock with the usual opposite side.  No stats are included, but the master symbols are, as well as the years the player was in The Show, and when (if at all) he was elected to the HOF.  No currently rostered players are in the set, thus no Ichiro or Pujols, etc.

Each outfielder is rated for a specific position, and I like that.  For example: Puckett is a center fielder, Kaline is a right fielder, and Yastrzemski is a left fielder.

Other observations are the pitching cards are normalized down quite a bit; the best cards I see in the starting pitching group are:

Nolan Ryan Akyw
Bob Feller Akyw
Pedro Martinez Akz
Greg Maddux Axz

Some other starting pitchng cards of note:

Gibson Bxy
Koufax Bk
Clemens Bxy
Big Train Johnson Bkz
Big Unit Johnson Bk

However, the pitching grades make the set highly playable as inter-squad games and that is a huge plus.  If you run these guys out against other sets they will not fare as well as they are normalized.  It appears to me, that this set is designed to play against each other.

The bullpen is on the thin side, just 12 arms.

Rivera is the ace with a A&C* k
and Quisenberry is the least effective as a C*zz

There are so many ways to mix these teams and play them, by team they had the most innings for, by birth month, by era, by region, alphabetically, random pull by position, or one could run a draft with other managers.  I like the idea of a mini-tournament with a draft using this set.

The hitting seems to be either a high-range average or career, I am sure if you look around you can find a stats-person that has the analysis.

Here are some card examples:

Standard Infielders card:

Standard Outfielders card:

Player in the set but not in the HOF:

Shoeless Joe's card:

Managers Card:

Overall a great addition to the APBA selection from the company.  I am a sucker for odd sets so my view should be read through that lens.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Chicago Tourney!

I am finally able to get back to blogging with the semester at a close.
The Chicago Fall Tourney was a huge success, thanks to Rob Spatz and all the fantastic managers. Rob found a great venue, was well organized, and it ran very smoothly, in the tradition of all the Chicago tourneys.

My 1964 Twins were nothing short of AMAZING.  They ran the table: 9-0 in divisional play.  I went from feeling like they were doing well, to not believing it, and ended with a series of superstitions to not break the streak.  9-0: congratulations to a strong hitting, above average pitching, and poor fielding team.

They will be an interesting group to use in the future. A big "thank you" to The APBA Blog run by Thomas Nelshoppen  for these tourney pics.   Check out his blog, it is excellent and link above takes you to it.

The Twins hitting was off the charts showing a massive run differential (north of 70).  Here are some rough stats presented in the batting order over 9 games.  I will do a separate entry for game 10.

The team hit .351 and smashed 23 Home Runs over 9 games.

Jimmy Hall:  .424
Tony Oliva:  .390
Bobby Allison:  .294 with 5 Home Runs
Harmon Killebrew:  .432
Don Mincher:  .316
Rich Rollins:  .333
Early Battey:  .361
Bernie Allen:  .352
Zoilo Versalles:  .257

We ran the table for divisional play, and then ran into the 2000 Astros managed by Pig Daniels.  Don't sweat the "Pig" name, it is the name he prefers. The Twins were shut out by Jose Lima.....Yes, Jose Lima.  And, that sent the Twins back to Minneapolis, the front office into turmoil, and sent the Astros on a run to the championship game. It was good to see the Daniels clan join the APBA action.

Next stop is a winter tourney in Wisconsin-January 21st to be specific in Wauwatosa.   I will be taking the powerful 1970 Minnesota Twins squad up north for that one.  After Wisconsin is the Prairieland 2.0-teams yet to be announced.  

The Wisconsin tournament is a 1970s tourney and the Prairieland is teams from 1970-2000 with one dead-ball player.  Look for more blogging about those two. 

I can't bring a Twins dead-ball player but I can bring a Washington Senators dead-baller to join a Twins squad.  The scouts say this guy has potential:

However, there seems to be some disagreement at headquarters.  I like the kid's numbers, but there are other dead-ball players.  And, I am never sure to go with a once-every-four-games ABxz starter or a studly every-day position player.  Time to crunch the numbers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

November Chicago Tournament quick Pre-View

First, thanks to Rob Spatz for taking over this tournament and keeping it alive.
Rob did a call for ideas and from the great suggestions, he selected a Sub-500 theme.  Your APBA team must have a sub .500 winning record.  As a Twins fan I had many fine teams to pick from.  I debated an 80s or 90s team, but I am managing the 1988 Twins in the TCABT in Minneapolis in November, so I selected the great 1964 Minnesota Twins!

The 1964 Twins went 79-83.

These Twins can HIT!

Tony Oliva:  .323/.359/.557 with 32 HRs

Harmon Killebrew:  .270/.377/.548  49HRs

Bobby Allison  .287/.404/.553  32 HRs

Jimmy Hall  .282/.338/.480  25HRs

Rich Rollins  .270/.334/.406

Early Battey  .272/.348/.407

And, they can pitch a bit too:  

Jim Kaat  B-yz
Camilo Pascual  B-x
Mudcat Grant C-z
Dick Stigman D-xz

Al Worthington  A*xz
Jim Perry  B*xz
John Klippstein B*yz

Now let's get back to earth for a moment, they must have a weakness!  Fielding.  I will have a fielding 3 team no matter what tricks I pull or who is throwing.  

Mincher is killing me at 1B, a fielding 2.
Rollins at 3B is a 3.
Allen at 2B is a 7
The above combined with a fast but three 2s in the OF gets me to a solid 34 without my pitcher. 
Clank, clank, clank, iron hands in the field. 

You can still enter the tournament, just local the Facebook page and sign up, or you can leave a comment here and I can lead you to Rob. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chicago Summer Fantasty Tournament

Chicago was fantastic.  I can't express what a gracious host Doug Schuyler continues to be for the APBA community.  I am very happy that I managed a fantastic photo of this future APBA Hall-of-Famer. Below is a shot of Doug and his famous throwing motion-note the dice in the air!

Who won?  We all did-it was an APBA tournament!  Well, technically Bob Eller and his powerful 2015 Cubs won.  I had the privilege of playing Bob and his Cubs in Division play.  We had an awesome set of three games, with a walk-off win by the Cubs and my go-ahead run being gunned down by a throw from center field to home.  Not just a roll of the dice with this guy, many wise managerial moves to get to victory. But you still need a dose of the old "Me hit ball hard" to win.

Here is a shot of the Championship game between Bob and Craig's 1979 Brew Crew. 

How did my 2006 Twins do?  Not so great, but I still believe in them: 2-7.  

MVP: Joe Mauer
He hit a studly .424 for the tournament.
Over 9 games he collected:
9 Runs scored
6 Walks
3 Home Runs
3 Doubles
Stole 2 Bases
and knocked in 12!

Rod Carew
He hit .432 for the Tourney
Over 9 games:
10 runs scored
2 Home Runs
3 Doubles
2 Stolen Bases

Carew DH'ed so I can't give him the MVP when Mauer worked every inning behind the dish as an 8. 

Special Mention:
Bautista was a great pinch hitter!
Tom Kelly gave him the nod three times and he hit 2 doubles in 3 plate appearances.  All late in games.  I used Tyner (F) as a pinch runner for him and Tyner scored twice.  A deadly combination. 

Two problems that lead to 7 losses:  Outside of Carew and Mauer, the team hit under .250 and I gave up a ton of 8th inning runs in two games. 

In division play I faced Doug's 2015 Royals, a squad I managed in the TCABT in Minneapolis, the 2009 Yankees, and the 2015 Cubs. My team was the oldest team in my division dating all the way back to 2006. 

Here are some shots of the action that I did not post via Facebook while in Chicago. 

I look forward to seeing all these people again and the next tournament in Chicago.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chicago Fantasy Tournament Pre-view

Chicago is the 23rd of July!  What a great venue, and an even better set of managers at this one. 

I am taking another run at at trophy with the 2006 Minnesota Twins.  I think they are one of the best Twins teams on APBA paper.   PLUS, and it is a big plus, I added the 1977 Rod Carew to this team. 

Doug Schuyler is the organizer of this APBA tourney and it is very well run, to say the least.  This year, for the summer tourney he added a great twist.  You can add one player from the history of your franchise.
Thus, the 1977 Carew added to my 2006 Twins. 

I have been running the numbers and I think I will hit the team this way:

1.  Rod Carew DH (F) .388/.570/.449
2.  Joe Mauer C-8 .347/.507/.429
3.  Justin Morneau 1B-4 .321/.559/.375
4.  Torii Hunter  CF-3  .278/.490/.336
5.  Michale Cuddyer  RF-3  .284/.504/.362
6.  Luis Castillo 2B-8 (F) .296/.370/.358
7.  Jason Bartlett SS-8  .309/.393/367
8.  Nick Punto  3B-5 (F) .290/.373/.352
9.  Lew Ford LF-2 (F) .226/.312/.287

Defense 1


Santana A xyz
Bonser C xz
Liriano A k
Radke C z

I have decided to stagger the good pitching, so each team I face sees an A in every series.  Thus splitting Santana and Liriano from the traditional #1 and #2. 

The pen is STACKED so I hope to get a solid 5 out of Bonser and Radke, then turn loose the cannons in the Pen. 

The Pen:

Reyes A&B* xy
Nathan A&C* kxz
Neshek A* kxz
Crain B* yz

Crain can get the one time boost to an A*if needed, but Reyes and Nathan will throw a whole bunch of innings 6-9. 

The Bench:

Jason Tyner (F) OF-2 Pinch runner
Michael Redmond (S) C-8 Extra catcher
Luis Rodriguez 3B-3, 2B-7, SS-7, 1B-3 Utility Player

There is not as much speed as I like on a team here, so Tyner may play an important role late in tight games. 

Granted, I am facing great teams with great players added like: Ruth, Koufax, Frank Thomas, and Brett, but this time of year is our spring training, and as a manager, I look at this team and think: "We have a much better than average chance!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

TCABT -VI and Howie Mooney Does it Again!

Selection Saturday for TCABT-VI!  What a fun time of year.  

I have some self-imposed rules for team selection that I abide by now: I only play Twins, Royals, and Cardinals teams, with one exception, the 1990 Reds. 

Why these teams?  I grew up in West-central Minnesota-so a life-long Twins fan.  I did part of my graduate work in Kansas (RockChalk!), and I now live in Illinois and adopted the Cardinals as my local team.  The '90 Reds?  Two words: Chris Sabo. 

The TCBAT continues to grow every time we play as it is now up to 32 teams and may go to 36.  I highly reccomend this tournament as the play is excellent, and the fellowship is top notch.  It is a very well run tournament and you will have a great day. 

After midnight on Saturday July 2, we can begin to select our teams.  I usually play a few games with some possible teams and then send my selection in.  Some of the teams I am tempted to manage in the TCBAT are the 1969, 1987, 1988, and 1991 Twins.  I missed my chance to play the 69 Twins in the Prairieland Tournament as I had a death in the family.  So I feel I need to give them a run. However, Howie Mooney ran a set of 1988 Twins for me and I have been playing them to get a feel for them.  

Why '88?  Both Kirby (.356 24HR)  and Hrbek (.312 25HR)  had big years, along with Gaetti's best year (.301 28HR)  at the plate and the '88 Twins have 2 A starters, both with a z. 

Why not '88? Two, yes two, D starters. D as in "Death" in a tournament. 

Howie Mooney ran a set of the 1988 Twins for me and they are gorgeous.  Here is a shot of the envelope and card-back.

Below are some of the well-know players.  This could be the 1-4 in the lineup.  Some speed at the top with "Crank" and "Puck" and then the power of "Buy a Vowel" and "The Rat". 

The lineup as I have it appears to be a 1 defense if a 2 is throwing so my Ds have a defense 1 behind them as does my closer.  I can add a defensive upgrade at catcher (Harper is a 6, Nieto is an 8) and gain a 1 defense late in a game. 

The rotation is hot and cold.  Two As and two Ds.  The saving grace, those Zs are a big help. 

Viola as the ace and then I am always at a loss on how to set the rotation.  Conventional wisdom says top to bottom, Viola, Anderson, Bert and then Straker.  But in a tourney I am inclined to mix it up, Viola (A), Bert (D), Anderson (A), and Straker (D), so I have at least one A going against each opponent. 

The Pen. One A with letters and one B with letters, and both have a z.  Reardon will close and Atherton can go as set-up, and use that one-time A upgrade when needed. The pen is short. "SeƱor Smoke" Berenguer is a C* with xyw.  A somewhat available option especially in the middle of an inning so he is a one-time B*. 

Yes, I know, I can't use Howie's set in the tournament, but I own an '88 complete set. 

Howie also ran a Twins All-star team for me that I will post next week.