News and Notes: Playoff Off Day (for us)

Props to the Pirates. Good luck in the playoffs.

I’m really looking forward to tonight’s Cle/Tampa game. I’m going to pull for Cle.

A few interesting tidbits from the WSJ last week:

– According to Baseball Info Solutions there have been more than 7,800 “defensive shifts” in 2013, up from 4,500 in 2012.

– The frequency of sacrifice bunts and intentional walks fell to record lows this year. Stolen-base attempts sank to their lowest since 1973. The stats guys are winning out.

I heard this during a radio broadcast (can’t remember which game)

– There were 12 guys with 100+ RBI this year, two on the Tigers. In 2000 there were over 51 (including Bobby Higginson and Dean Palmer)


And a thought which I’m carrying over from a Coleman/Smoking Loon exchange last week.

– I had a Strat-0-Matic set when I was young. Actually, it was my father’s and the player cards were from ’77-’79. Not the best Tiger years, but the Yankees and A’s could kill it. I remember playing whole games and keeping score. When I was very young, the great Jon Miller did play-by-play for the Rangers and lived a few houses down from us. I didn’t have any baseball consciousness then, but my parents buddied up with the Millers. Several years later he was in Arlington for an Orioles/Rangers series and he came by the house. Strat-O-Matic came up and he told me that he use to simulate entire seasons with one team, and would call the play-by-play and do the PA as he progressed through the games.

– With that in mind, can we talk for a bit about baseball video games? When I was six, my next door neighbor, Kyle, had baseball for his Atari. He used to dominate me when we played and would turn to me and do a menacing laugh every time he hit a home run. In fact, he’d load up the bases on purpose and then hit a grand slam. Over and over and over. Finally, he turned to me to start his laugh and I punched him in the nose. The laughs stopped and my team’s performance improved.

– I would like to single-handedly claim responsibility for the incredible Matt Williams 1990 season. If you’ll remember, Baseball Stars came out in 1989. Unless you wanted to play with the Lovely Ladies or the Japan Robins, you had to name your own teams (playing with the American Dreams just wasn’t fair). My buddy and I named every MLB team, including a 3B for the Giants named Matt Williams whom we had never heard of. He hit about .660 with 54 home runs in our first Baseball Stars season, and in 1990 he became an All-Star for the first time. Coincidence?

– I played RBI Baseball when I went to my friends’ houses who weren’t as fortunate to have Baseball Stars like me, but I felt sorry for them.

– I also played a lot of Tony La Russa baseball in the early 90’s on my PC. In fact, that’s how I really came to know many of the all-time Tiger greats. This was, of course, when I wasn’t playing Leisure Suit Larry.

– Baseball games kind of got lost for me once the consoles improved, as the focus shifted to Madden and NHL.

– I did, however, pick up MLB The Show a few years ago, and that game is unbelievable. I’d play more if the games just didn’t take so long. Plus, that was 2 years ago so I’m tired of trying to win with Brad Penny. They really have done an amazing job of making sure that you buy the new edition every year.



  1. judpma

    October 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I am also pulling for Cleveland…go AL Central!!

  2. judpma

    October 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    being a little older and having my preteen to early teen days in the late 50’s we played a baseball game with dice and baseball cards.( My middle son was a Strat-o-matic junkie.).. I too played full seasons with a deck of Topps cards with every player of every team. Not realizing the future value of, for example my ’58 Yankee cards. My deck of Topps was pretty worn out each year ready to collect and play the next year. I kept stats and the whole deal started over the next year.

    • Coleman

      October 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      There was always one guy you seemed to get in every pack, then you’d end up with about 10 of him. Always random guys, like Mike Lum.

      • Smoking Loon

        October 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        Chris Spier of the Giants was my random guy. Man, was i tired of getting his card in the packs.

        I was heavily into baseball cards for a while there. I dreamed of owning a complete set. The very idea of being able to buy a year’s set complete seemed almost perverse – I think I was surprised when I discovered the possibility. It would be hard for your average modern suburban kid to relate to this, but the price of a complete set was way out of my reach. So I dreamed of running off with a whole carton (even if it would undoubtedly contain at least 10 Chris Spier’s) from the dumpy little newstand-type store we used to haunt in the mornings before school. (Never happened.)

        • Coleman

          October 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm

          It’s annoying in it’s own right, but then once it occurs to you there is probably some kid getting an Al Kaline in every pack–really annoying.

        • Smoking Loon

          October 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm

          Re judpma and the dice and cards:

          I have no idea where the idea came from, but I was playing Detroit Tigers seasons with dice and index cards at some early age. Simple stuff, just rolling the dice for the score, listing the starting pitcher. Can’t date it exactly but to say that Tom Timmerman must have been a pitcher for the Tigers then, and that it had to (for other reasons) be 1970 or before.

          But that was nothing. In the early 70s, there happened to be a baseball card (as in deck of cards) game on the back of a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. There was a list of what each card represented as a play. I adapted that into a somewhat more sophisticated version that was all the rage with me and my friends. Once you knew it, you didn’t need to consult a chart. It was really cool. We played seasons (or attempts at seasons), kept stats. It was baseball solitaire. You could play it “with” someone, but it was mostly games you’d be playing getting results for both teams, whether by yourself or in the company of someone else. (Ultimately we made up versions for all kinds of sports – football was a particular success.)

          I could still play that game today. And I’m not the only one.

          • Smoking Loon

            October 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm

            Coleman, my theory is that they stacked the deck with Chris Spiers and Mike Lums on purpose. I don’t think anyone was getting an Al Kaline in every pack.

            • Smoking Loon

              October 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm

              Strat-O-Matic: I loved baseball magazines at an early age. Getting the yearly Street & Smith was an event, believe me. It held all sacred knowledge. (Imagine how I felt the first time I picked up – with effort – that first Baseball Encyclopedia at the library. Unreal. All the meaningful history of the world in one volume!) Anyway, one of those magazines, probably the Street & Smith, was my first introduction to Strat-O-Matic.

              Are you kidding me? A game that lets you realistically play out baseball games and hold the fate of nations in your very own hands? A license to be Lord God of Baseball, to recreate reality in the form of your own colony-become-civiliization of statistical Sea Monkeys? (Remember Sea Monkeys? Never ordered them, but the ads were persuasive.) I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t afford it. Didn’t get a chance to play Strat-O-Matic (someone else’s) until I was 15 or so. Very cool, but not as cool as it would have been 5 years earlier. I was developing other interests.

              Many years later I would chance upon a friend of a friend who happened to be in possession of a Strat-O-Matic. Yankees fan. He challenged me to a series, best of three, I think. His roster was selected from Yankees all-time greats. Mine was either the 1984 Tigers, the 1968 Tigers, or some combination thereof, can’t remember.

              I won.

              Still haven’t played a baseball video game, not even once. They look really cool. Other interests, adulthood, no time, etc. etc. etc.. Maybe some day. I think the visuals would be distracting. I’m more interested in the results than watching animated baseball players act them out, I guess.

              The Strat-O-Matic concept was easy to grasp the first time I saw the cards. If you get it, have a knack for stats and numbers, and can write a simple script that generates random numbers, you could easily make your own computer-based version. About 20 years ago I also saw a simple way to make the game and my friends used to call “baseball cards” much more sophisticated while still doable with a single deck of cards (though a few charts would now be necessary).

          • Coleman

            October 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm

            I still have a handful of those cards. I thought it was a bit unfair that Al Kaline was just a Fly Out.

            • Smoking Loon

              October 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm

              What, they had plays on them? I don’t remember that part.

              • Coleman

                October 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

                We are probably thinking of different cards. I’m thinking of these:

              • Smoking Loon

                October 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

                Oh man, Those are vintage. Yeah, I was thinking of the cards of the early to mid 70s.

        • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

          October 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

          Jerry Lumpe was the only Tiger’s card that I got. I bought pack after pack hoping for Al Kaline card but would have simply settled for a Bill Freehand card.

          • Coleman

            October 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm

            I’ll trade you a Mike Lum for a Jerry Lumpe.

  3. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Good write up Kevin…..BTW, what’s the word in DFW on the Ranger’s demise? Them coming so close to winning the World Series in 2011 followed by a slow regression scares me as such could also happen to the Tigers too.

    To date everybody on techno-baseball games, I recall playing a simulated baseball game with my brothers using baseball cards and the stats on the back of the card. Gosh, that was 50 years ago but was it was kind of cool how we could use a player’s back-of-the-card stats and some dice to play ball.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      October 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Great question. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on it. But before sharing, I’d like to ask what you guys think of the Rangers as an organization. This is a good opportunity for an exercise on perspective.

      • Smoking Loon

        October 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm

        I think the Rangers are organized.

        • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

          October 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

          Hey Kevin…The Rangers seem to always be buying band aids to fix some short-term problem. They haven’t built a team for the duration of the season. On another note, their fans don’t deserve the Rangers’ success over the recent years. Of the Rangers v. Tigers games that I attended, fans show up around the 2nd inning, ate some nachos, and headed home by the 8th inning. (I am an ole school traditionalist that thinks it is a sin to miss batting practice because you will jeopardize a win for that night’s game.)

          • Kevin in Dallas

            October 4, 2013 at 12:04 am

            Interesting viewpoint for a team that went to back to back WS, and was one misplayed ball away from winning it all in 2010 (Nelson Cruz made Delmon Young look like a Gold Glover).

            I think that Jon Daniels may be one of the best GMs in baseball. His trades are as sly as DDs, but his drafting is waaaaaaay better. The team will still compete for a long time thanks to young studs like Andrus, Profar, Feliz, Perez, etc. (Remember when TSE told me that there were 10 players on the Rangers he’d rather have over Elvis Andrus?)

            Anyway, fans have been freaking out here. There have been serious discussions over whether Washington, or even Jon Daniels, are on the hot seat. I just don’t see it. JD should be given tenure, and Washington has earned a contract extension.

            That said, Washington’s contract is up next year. There are no talks to extend him right now. You rarely see a lame duck in MLB, but the Rangers may try it out.

            • Kevin in Dallas

              October 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

              One more point, OTFiM – I’m with you regarding band aids, up until Jon Daniels took over. But that was definitely the stigma up until then.

              • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

                October 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm

                I hear you Kevin…good comments. I was supposed to be in DFW yesterday en route to our houseboat on Lake Powell, UT. Because of the shutdown, the park is closed and I remain in MS. Our Swedish cousin’s kid flew in and went to the D. Star game last night on my nickel and toured the Rangers ballpark today! Meanwhile tonight he will watch his first Tiger game on TV. Make it a good one Max and set up Verlander for tomorrow evening! Dirks will spank Colon!

  4. Coleman

    October 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    So who is getting the game-winning hit tonight, Ryan Raburn or Delmon Young?

    • Coleman

      October 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      Two hits in the game: double Raburn, HR Young. Advantage: Young.

  5. Coleman

    October 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I’m not looking forward to facing Salazar next season.

    • Smoking Loon

      October 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      Or this one. Or any one. Maybe his arm will fall off.

  6. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Wow, Kevin. You struck gold with this one. Great post, great read, great idea. You flooded me with memories, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Bear with me, folks, as I share mine as reasonably briefly as I can.

    • Smoking Loon

      October 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      Interesting tidbits and stats as well.

      I’ve seen the case against the sac bunt, but what do the stats guys have against the stolen base? When you weigh the success rate for steals of 2B (75%?) against risk of GIDP and add the benefit of RISP and factor in odds of reaching safely, then the odds of advancing runner to 3B with even an out… offhand, it doesn’t seem like a bad move.

  7. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I’m not entirely displeased that Cobb, who shut out the Tigers, is shutting out the Indians.

  8. judpma

    October 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    The Indians are pulling well known Tiger specialty of 8’hits scoring 0 runs

    • Smoking Loon

      October 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      This year’s team of destiny still has two innings to pull it out. Think they will?

    • Coleman

      October 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      R3L2O Fails will do that to you.

  9. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    This is not to say “I told you so” to anyone (because I didn’t), but the Indians went 21-6 in September while the Tigers were 13-13. Pretty spooky, in retrospect. Objects in rear-view mirror closer than they appear(ed) to be.

  10. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    I thought I’d heard that Delmon Young wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason with the Rays. Or does that only begin with the ALDS?

    • bada bing

      October 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

      I thought this as well. Are there different rules for the new Wild Card games?

  11. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Tampa Bay and Cleveland are a combined 8-18 against the Red Sox this season.

    • Smoking Loon

      October 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      I guess the Rays have their own team of destiny thing going. First they sweep the Orioles and the Yankees successively to win 7 straight. They’ve played 8 straight on the road and will soon be 6-2, win or go home the last couple. Does anyone think they can beat the Red Sox?

      • Smoking Loon

        October 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm

        And do we *want* them to beat the Red Sox, necessarily?

  12. William

    October 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    A game and a half in, and I’m already sick of the damn tomahawk chop. Braves fans are insufferable when their team wins.

    Go Dodgers.