Wednesday, December 3, 2014

National League - Round 1

WOODSTOCK, ILWith limited success in creating new APBA fans in his own family, Carter decided to reach out to those in the music industry and share his love of the baseball game.  Seen here, Carter met with Country Music superstar, Dolly Parton, and discussed the fine qualities of the game.  Parton said she often suffers from back and shoulder pain while performing.  Carter assured her that rolling a few games was just the thing to help relieve the strain of the heavy load she was carrying on tour.

Dolly was invited to the Chicagoland World Series in beautiful downtown Woodstock, Illinois to get her feet wet.  This was appealing to the country music legend who had not seen her feet in many years.  Prior to the event, Dolly contacted event coordinator and our APBA friend, Doug Schuyler, to go over the tournament rules and ask for an equipment waiver.  Parton had commissioned two extra large dice shakers just for the event and asked if they were legal for tournament play.  With a well documented dislike of dice towers and other dice paraphernalia, Schuyler informed Parton that he would have to personally inspect her shakers before they could be used in the tournament.

Being the perfectionist that he is, Doug painstakingly inspected Parton’s shakers before finally giving his two thumbs up approval.  “It was a big job, but I stayed with it until it was complete”, said Schuyler.  “I’ve honestly never had my hands on shakers that size before, but aside from obstructing the view of the boards some, I do not believe they offer any unfair advantage in game play.”  This ruling was exciting news throughout the APBA community. 

Schuyler was given some tips and exercises he could do by the tournament director to prepare for inspection of shakers this large.  “I used the techniques Carter suggested, and they helped.  It’s just hard to get your hands wrapped around things that big”, said Schuyler.  With the equipment inspection over, Dolly chose to play with the 1932 Philadelphia Athletics.  Parton made this choice, as many APBA players do, because it reminded her of her childhood.  “32 A’s remind me of a simpler time, when I was just a little girl, a very long, long time ago”, said Parton.

Things started out well for the East Tennessee native, but quickly came to an abrupt end.  Every time Parton would shake her big shakers, play at all of other tables would stop as the other participants watched.  Parton was finally asked to leave because of the constant interruptions to the tournament.  “All I said was her shakers didn’t provide any unfair advantage in game play.  I never said they wouldn’t be a distraction”, added Schuyler regarding the commotion.

Adjusting to the passage of time, I think, is a key to success and to life: just being able to roll with the punches.” – Dolly Parton.  We agree.  Roll on Dolly, roll on!

NEW YORK -  In Game 1 the 1976 Mets put Tom Terriffic (A-XZ) on the mound against the 1979 Cardinals and Pete Vuckovich (B-YZ).  St. Louis scored 1 in the 2nd inning, but from that point on, Seaver would allow only one Cardinal hit for the remainder of the game.  Vuckovich dominated the Mets hitters.  After a Bruce Boisclair double to start the game, the Cardinal ace retired 18 of the next 19 Mets.  In the bottom of the 7th, trailing 1-0, Dave Kingman put the Mets ahead with a 2 run homer.  Seaver and company cheered from the dugout believing two runs would be enough.  But Ed Kranepool followed Kong with a 66-0, 44-1 homer of his own to give Seaver some breathing room.  #41 dominated, and New York won, 3-1.

ST. LOUIS St. Louis tried to even the series with Bob Forsch (C-Z) against the Mets and Jon Matlack (B-YZ).  New York got on top in the first with 3 runs, highlighted by Ed Kranepool’s second home run in as many games.  The Cardinals answered with two of their own, but the Mets pulled away slowly, scratching out runs in the 3rd and 4th, before Dave Kingman matched Kranepool with his 2nd home run (11-1) in as many games in the 5th, giving New York a 6-2 lead.  Ted Simmons reached the seats with a 2 run blast in the 8th, but Bob Apodaca and Skip Lockwood finished off St. Louis and New York advanced into the Quarter Finals to face the 1976 Cincinnati Reds with a 7-5 final score.

The clash between the Mets and Reds will set up a battle between Seaver and his future teammates.  It also will be a rematch of the 1973 NLCS and the Reds will be looking for some retribution.

MONTREALThe Expos came into the tourney with high expectations.  While everyone was looking at the ’76 Reds and ’79 Pirates as favorites on this side of the bracket, the dark horse was the ’79 Expos.  Good starting pitching, a deep bull pen and explosive offense made this a team that no one wanted to face.  

The Cubs punched the higher seed in the mouth right out of the gate scoring 4 runs in the top of the 1st and never looked back.  Larry Parrish cut the lead in half with a 2 run homer in the 2nd inning, but Montreal could not pose a threat against Rick Reuschel.  Sutter locked things down in the 9th and the Cubs take Game 1, 5-2.

CHICAGO – Outside of Dave Cash (4 for 8: 2 doubles and a triple), the Expos bats never showed up.  Cromartie, Dawson and Carter were a combined 1 for 23 (.043) in the 2 games.  The Cubs starters go 8 innings each and hand the ball off to Bruce Sutter who picks up 2 easy saves.  The Cubs advance to play the ’79 Pirates.  Mr. Cub was jumping for joy.


MICHIGAN / OHIOBetween January 25th and 27th, 1978, the Cleveland Superbomb (also known as the Great Blizzard of 1978) pummeled the mid-west.  The Michigan State Police pronounced Traverse City, Michigan, unofficially closed and told everyone to stay home.  The Traverse City Panthers continued league play.  The Major General of the Ohio National Guard described the devastation to Ohio’s transportation system as being comparable to a nuclear attack.  It was not immediately clear just how many nuclear attacks the Ohio National Guard had participated in, but it was confirmed that the Major General had been to Cleveland before.  About 100,000 cars were abandoned on Michigan’s highways.  Most of them were abandoned in the southeast part of the state.  Most were Fords, and most were left because of the catastrophic snow fall.  However, many were just abandoned because they were Fords and that’s where they quit.  The subsequent snow fall was coincidental.

But in sunny California it was 1978.  There was no snow, and a First Round matchup saw the 1978 Giants take on the 1978 Padres.  This ’78 Padres club was the first team I ever saw play in a live game.  Riverfront Stadium, August 5, 1978.  A little known switch-hitting rookie named Ozzie Smith played shortstop.  A guy behind us spilled beer down the back of my shirt, the smell of the freshly cut Astroturf, the animation of the monochrome scoreboard.  Pete Rose was thrown out twice on the bases, and the Reds won!  I was hooked!

SAN FRANCISCO Youngster Bob Knepper (A-YZ) took the hill for the Giants against former Giant and former youngster, Gaylord Perry (B-YZ) for the Padres.  Both pitchers held the other side hitless through three innings, but McCovey doubled home Darrell Evans in the 4th, the Giants picked up another in the 5th, and Evans smashed a solo shot in the 6th, as San Francisco eased away from the Friars.  Knepper tried to record the complete game, but needed a little help from Gary LaVelle to get the final out. The Padres threaten, but the Giants hang on for the 3-2 win.

Winfield only had one hit,
but made it count
SAN DIEGO Two great lefties Randy Jones and Vida Blue squared off in Game 2.  In APBA, as in real life, good defense is important.  The 1978 Padres do not have it.  With only a 34 team defense number, Jack Clark’s 36-12, in the first inning, resulted in a 4-6 fielders choice rather than an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.  Darrell Evans took advantage of the opportunity with a 66-1 to put the Giants up 2-0.  Clark would get his own 2 run homer in the 3rd, but those two Giant hits were about all they generate.  In the last 6 innings, San Francisco managed only 2 singles.  The Padres doubled the Giants hit production and win Game 2, 5-4.

SAN FRANCISCO The series moved back to the bay where the Giants jumped out early, but could not hold off the Friars.  With the score tied in the 7th, Dave Winfield picked up his only hit of the series with a 66-1 to break the tie.  The Giants tied it back up in the bottom of the inning, but in the 8th, Darrel Thomas doubled and scored on an Ozzie Smith single.  With Game 3 having no rest restrictions, Rollie Fingers went for the 2 inning save, picking up 3 strike outs and allowing no hits.  The 10 seed Padres move on to face #2 seed ’76 Phillies in the Quarter Finals.

HOUSTON The tournament moves from 1978 to 1980 as the division winning ’80 Astros face the tournament directors favorite, ’80 Braves.  Game 1 saw the Niekro brothers face off against each other.  Older brother Phil goes 6 innings allowing only 1 run to get the win, while younger brother Joe lasts 8, but gives up 5 runs and is saddled with the loss.  After the game, to add insult to injury, the older brother held down the little brother and gave him a noogie for old time sake.

ATLANTA The tournament director told everyone he had never thrown out a first pitch at a game before.  Afterwards, no one doubted him.  The tournament directors have had no luck in cheering for their teams in the tournaments.  George H.W. Bush’s 1986 Texas Rangers and 1986 Houston Astros both lost in their first series.  Likewise, Ronald Reagan’s 1985 Los Angeles Dodgers lost their opening series to the 1982 Pirates.  Jimmy Carter is a Braves fan, and his intelligence team had assured him the 1980 team would break the cycle.  Of course this was the same intelligence team responsible for Operation Eagle Claw.  The Astros’ bullpen was too strong for the Braves to manage any late inning offense.  J.R. Richard, Dave Smith and Joe Sambito gave Atlanta no chance in the late innings and Carter’s hope of a Braves sweep was lost.

HOUSTON Back in Houston, the Astros pitching was as strong as it had been in Atlanta.  Forsch and Richard combined for 4 innings each, while Sambito closed out the 9th.  Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno capitalized on RBI opportunities in the 5th and 6th innings and the Astros advanced.  In the Quarterfinals, the Astros will face the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers in a rematch of the 1980 tie breaker game.  "I just couldn't win anything in 1980", said Carter.  

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