Friday, November 28, 2014

Jimmy Carter Invitational - American League Play-In Round

With the Holiday season now underway, it seems fitting that the Jimmy Carter Invitational has also began.  The tournament consists of the best team for each franchise from 1976 to 1980, in a best 2 out of 3 format.  The tournament is single elimination with seeding based upon winning percentage in the regular season.  All ties for seeding were broken by win differential.

President Carter was known for many things.  But to keep the theme of this tournament (as I attempt to do with all of them) non-political, I think it is best to remember our 39th President for his humanitarian and charitable works.

As tournament director, Jimmy Carter has stated that he believes the love of APBA baseball should be extended to persons in every station of society.  This includes all walks of life from celebrities, entertainers, and super heroes to athletes and world leaders (both our world and beyond).  He intends to use his newly appointed position to spread the love we all share for this game beyond the traditional bounds.  May God have mercy on us all.

PLAINS, GA - Any good humanitarian knows that charity begins at home and with family.  Jimmy requested that I assist in recruiting his brother Billy as an APBA player.  I tried to fit in with brother Billy’s band of good old boys as we take in an outdoor APBA tournament, but I’m not sure it worked.  It’s hard to be a redneck, if you have no-neck.  While I’m not sure Billy was an immediate APBA convert, he seemed please he could drink beer while watching the dice roll.  I do feel confident he will make an appearance or two later in the tournament. 
WASHINGTON, D.C.Back at the White House, the director asked if I would return to Washington and assist him as he taught his daughter Amy to play.  He also asked that I tryout a new hair piece to see if it that was a better fit for me than the Billy Carter Redneck Power T-shirt.  I’m just not sure either work well.  At any rate, the young Carter daughter is seen here looking over a score sheet and enjoying the game with her dad.  I believe APBA is at its very best when shared across generational lines – but maybe without me watching the fun and looking like Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction.

CLEVELANDGame one of the Tournament saw as good of a pitching matchup as you are likely to see as the 1979 Mariners battled the 1976 Indians in a Play-In Series to advance into Round 1 of the tournament.  Mike Parrott (C-YZ) and Pat Dobson (B-Z) are not names often mentioned when people discuss great pitchers of the 70s, but on this night, they were both very good.  Tom Paciorek delivered a 66-0, 44-1 solo shot in the 2nd inning for the only run scored in the game. 

The Indians tried to rally in the 9th.  Tommy Smith’s pinch hit double led off the inning.  Larvell “Sugar Bear” Blanks bunted Smith to third, and the Indians had the tying run only 90 feet away with 1 out.  Kuiper drew the only walk of the night off Parrott, putting runners on the corners.  Rick Manning struck out looking for the second time in the game and Rico Carty’s ground ball to Julio Cruz ended the Cleveland threat.  Mike Parrott finished the night allowing only 2 hits and the walk to Kuiper, while striking out 4 as he completed the shutout and collected the win.  Dobson took the hard luck loss, allowing only 4 hits over 7 innings of work.

SEATTLE-  As the teams moved back across the country to the west coast, Indians fans were comforted by the fact that Dennis Eckersley (B-XY) would be handed the ball in Game 2 and that the Mariners did not have another pitcher above a D grade in the rotation for the remainder of the series.

In the top of the 1st, a two out rally with singles from Manning, Carty and Hendrick put the Tribe on the board first.  But Seattle answered in the bottom half with two of their own to take the lead, 2-1.  Cleveland roared back with 3 runs in the 4th, but again Seattle answered with a pair of runs to knot things up 4-4.

Rick Manning singled and stole second base in the top of the 5th, and Rico Carty drove him home to put Cleveland back on top.  They added two more in the 7th on singles by Manning, Hendrick, Bell and Powell as they pulled ahead 7-4. 

The Mariners scored in the 9th on a double from Tom Paciorek and a pinch hit single from Larry Milbourne, but it was too little too late as Cleveland evened the series and would return back to Cleveland for the finale.

CLEVELAND -  Game 3 saw Seattle jump out to an early lead with runs in the 1st, 3rd and 4th innings.  In the bottom of the 4th, Manning singled and scored on a hit from George Hendrick.  Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and 2 out, Charlie Spikes drove a single that scored Carty and Hendrick to tie the game, 3-3.

Charlie Spikes & Chops
The wheels fell off for Seattle in the 5th.  Things started harmless enough with two ground outs by Blanks and Kuiper.  Manning followed with a solo home run to break the tie and Seattle’s confidence.  Carty, Hendrick, Bell, Powell and Fosse all followed with 5 consecutive singles, scoring 3 more runs.  Charlie Spikes added 2 more with a double to the gap, and by the time the smoke cleared, the Indians were up 9-3.  Both teams reached the seats in the 8th.  Leon Roberts smacked a solo home run for Seattle and Rico Carty hit a two run blast for Cleveland to finish the scoring out, as the Indians advance to meet the 1979 Milwaukee Brewers in Round 1 with the 11-4 win.

BLOOMINGTON, MNThe 11th seed 1976 Twins prepared to host the lowest seed in the tournament, the expansion 1980 Toronto Blue Jays (.414).  Game 1 saw Jim Clancy dominate the home team, pitching a shutout while allowing 7 hits and no walks.  Mayberry and Moseby both homer for the Jays in a 7-0 win.

TORONTO The Blue Jays pitching continued to be better than the Twins as Dave Stieb gets the win as the Toronto club continues to swing hot bats and roughs up the weak Minnesota pitching staff by a score of 9-4. 

Otto Velez pair of 3-run homers
power the Jays over the Twins
Rod Carew led off the game for the Twins with a triple and scored on a ground out by Lyman Bostock.  Not to be outdone, Blue Jay lead off man Damaso Garcia connected on his own triple and scored on a base hit by John Mayberry.  With runners at first and third, Velez connected on an 11-5 home run putting the Jays up 4-1.

The Twins get 2 runs back in the second as Wynegar doubles home Disco Dan Ford and scores on a Bob Randall base hit.  But Velez struck again with a 66-1 with Alfredo Griffin and Al Woods on base to put Toronto ahead 7-3.

Ernie Whitt busted a 2 run homer in the 3rd to give the Blue Jays all of the runs they would need.  Dave Stieb allows the 4 Minnesota runs over 8 innings.  Jerry Garvin closes in the 9th and the Jays advance into Round 1 of the tournament to face the 1977 Texas Rangers who boast 2 Hall of Fame pitchers (Perry and Blyleven) in their starting rotation.

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